The 1999 sci-fi action classic The Matrix is going on stage in an engaging new way. Warner Bros. Theater Venues is planning a dance adaptation of the film that will bring audiences into the Matrix in a new way. In a first for his career, Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle will helm the production which will premiere at the new Manchester-based arts venue Factory International next October.
Titled Free Your Mind, the show is billed as a “large-scale immersive performance” taking advantage of the flexible, massive spaces of the venue to capture the scope of the Wachowskis‘ beloved blockbuster. The logline emphasizes that this will be a completely different way to experience The Matrix, combining immersive design and hundreds of dancers trained in hip hop choreography to create an energetic performance that will bring audiences into the moment in ways not possible on-screen. It’s an odd direction to take the franchise in on paper, but the stylish action sequences that made the film a classic may translate well to the medium of dance. Free Your Mind is also the inaugural event for Factory International.
Adding to the strangeness of it all is that Boyle, who’s never directed a show quite like this in his career, is stepping in to direct. The closest he came was in 2012 when he was the artistic director of the opening ceremony for the London Olympics. In theory, those skills should carry over somewhat as that event did see him leading thousands of volunteers and performers through musical numbers and more. He’s also had plenty of experience directing plays over the years, including one particularly star-studded one-night play for charity titled The Children’s Monologues starring Sir Ben Kingsley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Gemma Arterton, and Eddie Redmayne among others.
Boyle is still best known, however, for his film work, earning an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire and receiving a pair of nominations for 127 Hours. More recently, he helmed the television miniseries Pistol based on the memoir of U.K. punk icon and Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and, on the big screen, he directed the musical comedy film Yesterday.
Boyle will be joined by his longtime collaborator Tracey Seaward who is set to produce the dance adaptation. Playwright Sabrina Mahfouz (Noughts & Crosses) is on board to write while artist Es Devlin will provide large-scale sculptures as part of the immersive set. Music and choreography will be handled by renowned U.K. urban music giant Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante and hip hop dance guru Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy respectively.
Free Your Mind was commissioned by Factory International and will arrive at the venue in October 2023.