Mayfest in Broadmead

Mayfest, Bristol’s trailblazing festival of international contemporary theatre, is back!

‎And this year, 2 events are taking place in the Galleries, and both are world premieres!

polyphony (World Premiere)

  • 6 – 29 May 2022
  • Unit 21, Ground Floor, The Galleries (map)

polyphony by Verity Standen

An intricate homage to the human voice.

Step inside polyphony, an immersive audio installation composed from the weaving and splicing of conversations with people across the country.

How many times have you cleared your throat today?

Has your voice ever surprised you?

In here is a detailed tapestry of composition. Voices that have changed dramatically, trained voices, shy voices. Voices that have been quietened. Voices ready to sing

Listen a while.

In the autumn of last year Verity and her collaborators started interviewing people about their voices. Mostly outside, on park benches. From Middlesborough to London, Cumbria to Bristol, they asked people about the way they speak and sing, listened to their stories that have shaped their voices.

polyphony captures these conversations in intricate detail. So we can hear all the unique sounds that surround the words. Swallows, breaths, hesitations. In a time of distance, this is a celebration of the intimate, deeply human noises we can only hear close-up.

A flurry of laughter
A circle of ums and errs
A song of breath
A wall of tongues meeting teeth
There are two types of tickets available for polyphony: general tickets (up to a maximum capacity of 30 people per performance) and bubble tickets (which will allow you to experience the entire piece solo or with your own group).

Age guidance: 12+

Running time: 40 minutes

Conceived and composed by Verity Standen
Composed by Yas Clarke
Designer Ben Pacey
Production Manager Mark Munday
Produced by MAYK

This marks a new collaboration for MAYK and Bristol New Music as we join forces to present this exciting new work to Bristol audiences across our two programmes.

Presented with Bristol New Music and supported by Arts Council England.

Verity Standen is known for inviting audiences to experience music in different ways. Her live performances have surrounded people in song (Undersong, Mayfest 2018), had audiences embraced by singers (HUG), and provided concerts for a single person at a time (Symphony, Mayfest 2016). polyphony is an exploration of voice and intimacy, created over a period when bringing voices together live has been impossible.

Yas Clarke is a sound artist and musician interested in the relationship between different kinds of natural processes. He has worked with Verity to layer and ‘play’ these voices through the installation.

HABITAT (UK Premiere)

  • 28- 29 May, 2022

HABITAT by Doris Uhlich

“If you feel good about who you are inside, it will radiate” – Patti Smith

Unfolding over two hours on the floors and escalators of The Galleries, in the heart of Bristol’s commercial quarter, naked bodies flick, vibrate and slap against each other to electronic sounds and abstract techno.

Doris Uhlich’s HABITAT celebrates unity in diversity. As individuals and as a crowd 70 performers conquer the space in a choreography that is captivating, highly energetic and, at times, collectively reflective. The empty shopping centre will be transformed into a “habitat” full of unexpected life forms as the audience moves about freely in the available space.

Mayfest presents the UK Premiere of Austrian choreographer Doris Uhlich’s subversive and thrilling work. Supported by Perform Europe – which aims to rethink cross-border performing arts presentation in a more inclusive, sustainable and balanced way. Prior to Habitat’s Bristol presentation, the work will tour to our partners in Trondheim, Norway and Marseille, France.

If you are interested in participating in Habitat, go here

You can also read FAQs about participating here

Age guidance: 18+
Running time: 2 hours

Performance schedule
Saturday 28 May – Sunday 29 May: 8:30pm

Concept, Choreography: Doris Uhlich
Rehearsal directors: Hugo Le Brigand, Ann Muller, Mim Schneider
Performance: 70 participants / Mayfest, Bristol
DJ: Boris Kopeinig
Light design: Sergio Pessanha
Production: Niki Fischer, Marijeta Karlovic-Graf
Company Management: Margot Wehinger
International Distribution: Something Great
Coproduction Tanzquartier Wien and insert Tanz und Performance GmbH
Funded by the Cultural Department of the City of Vienna and the Foreign Ministry for Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sports

Doris Uhlich
Doris Uhlich (Austria, 1977) is a choreographer who has been developing her own projects since 2006. Many of her performances are investigations of beauty ideals and standards of body image, as in mehr als genug (2009), for example. Since her piece more than naked (2013) Doris Uhlich has also been examining the depiction of nudity free from ideology and provocation. Music, particularly techno music, plays an important role in her explorations. Most recently, she presented a naked ensemble rave-dancing at the Order of Friars Minor Conventual church in Krems and in front of the Vienna Secession in the scope of ImPulsTanz. Recently Doris Uhlich and dancer Michael Turinsky have won the prestigious Nestroy Special Award “for inclusion on an equal footing” for the performance Ravemachine (2016).

Instagram: @dorisuhlich