Liverpool’s LightNight will unveil seven new commissions when it returns on Friday 21 May 2021, in a combination of online and offline arts activity for the one night only arts festival. With a live drag cabaret event on Church Street, a synth-pop trio becoming a human instrument, a 3D cut out opera and a piece exploring sound waves and social gatherings, the theme of this year’s festival is ‘Play’. 

The theme ‘Play’ allows a reflection on the role of arts and culture in escape, creativity and happiness.

The programme of this year’s popular culture crawl will take place with a hybrid programme, combining physical and digital activity, and planned in accordance with government guidelines and restrictions.

The full programme of free LightNight events will be released on 5 May at 

Christina Grogan, Director of Open Culture (LightNight producers):

“We’re thrilled to be planning LightNight for 2021 following such an uncertain time for events, which are essential to the creative and economic life of Liverpool. We’re very grateful to our funders, sponsors, and everyone who has contributed to our Crowdfunder so far; supporting us to create a powerful collaborative festival with our artists, organisations, communities and partners. We hope to offer audiences a space to ‘Play’ this year and try something new after such a long but necessary lockdown.”

Mark Power, Registrar and Chief Operating Officer of LJMU:

“LightNight’s magic is the ability to explore, connect and play with the opportunities our city provides. I am thrilled that LJMU continues to be the principal sponsor for Liverpool’s free one-night arts festival, representing our continued support for the arts community and our graduates in their artistic careers.”

The seven commissions include:

→ Song Machine by Stealing Sheep – Online livestream & live performance with limited audience

In a new commission for LightNight, Liverpool’s beloved synth-pop trio become a human instrument for one night only. Audiences are invited to submit playful lyrics, words and poetry through Twitter, for Stealing Sheep to perform in a live broadcast on LightNight. Tweet @stealingsheep using the #playis tag to join in this mass song writing experience.

→ Queer The City: Drag Cabaret – Live event on Church Street & online film

Queer the City Homotopia Commission — Filla Crack Main Photo credit Tim Brunsden

Homotopia presents Liverpool’s big mouth scouse singing sensation Phillipa McKrackin (aka Filla Crack) and some of the most stunning drag performers in the UK who will play, interact, and delight. Performances will take place outside LUSH on Church Street, with banging and energetic pop-up kikis on all evening.

A Homotopia production, supported by LightNight, LUSH and Liverpool BID Company.

→ Project Earth: Liverpool! The Cut-Out Opera by Love Ssega – Online event

Musician, songwriter and curator Love Ssega presents an escapist family adventure where viewers are transported into a parallel version of Liverpool based on Andrew Kiwanuka’s Project Earth comic and brought to life from the 2D comic into a 3D Cut-out Opera. As a founder member and original songwriter of Clean Bandit, expect hooks to sing along to as well as a mix of synths and baselines associated with Love Ssega’s more experimental solo productions.

Commissioned by METAL in association with LightNight.

→ The Play Scratch Night & Workshops – Yolanda Mercy – Online

A new commission for LightNight The Play Scratch Night showcases 5 new pieces of writing penned by the local community. Yolanda Mercy invited anyone, new to writing or experienced, to her Writing Lab in the lead up to LightNight. Participants were invited to take inspiration from their lived experiences and the theme of Play to write a compelling and captivating 5-minute monologue, some of which will be performed at the festival.

→ Play the Stars by leo&hyde, Rosie Summers and Marco Galvani – Online event

In a new interactive digital commission for LightNight, audiences are invited to help create a 3D story as Tilt Brush artist Rosie Summers live-paints audience suggestions into a magical VR world set at Liverpool’s waterfront. Produced by theatre company leo&hyde the live-streamed performance will feature a live score by Liverpudlian composer Marco Galvani and storytelling by Rebecca Macauley.

→ In Flow by Ronan Devlin – Online event

Commissioned by LightNight In Flow is an online adaption of an audience responsive installation by Ronan Devlin that imagines an atomic resolution vista. Just as the imperceptible atomic world is uncertain, the work’s visual form resonates and changes state through audience engagement, creating a perpetually unfolding ‘scape’ of moiré pattern.

Audiences will be able to control and travel through multiple levels of the work online on LightNight. This work was made in collaboration with media-designer Michael Flückiger and composer Ant Dickinson.

→ The Three /\/\/\/’s by Haroon Mirza – Online event

A new choral performance created by Haroon Mirza The Three /\/\/\/’s (2021) explores social gatherings and ritual and is informed by the Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio – a mathematical phenomenon visible throughout nature and often applied in classical art. This ongoing performance features Liverpool singers including Anne Taft, Emma Bispham, Jennifer John, Steve Boyland and Tayo Aluko.

Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial in association with LightNight.

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#LoveLightNight Crowdfunder

The Crowdfunder fundraiser launched by organisers Open Culture has reached 56%. It is designed to help support the artists and cultural programme, allowing the team to continue to work with artists, creatives, performers and producers who make Liverpool such a vibrant city to live in.

The Crowdfunder asks for contributions that would usually be made in the form of the Festival Guide and merchandise. With a target of £3,500, it plugs a gap in the budget supporting Open Culture in their continued work as new commissions are created especially for LightNight.

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