Introduction to the Find your Eyes Creative team
19 Jul 2023
Working alongside a highly experienced and talented creative team on ‘Find Your Eyes’ has been an absolute pleasure. Each member of the team brings their unique expertise and perspective, contributing to a dynamic and innovative environment. From the visionary direction and captivating photography to the masterful set design, transformative costume designs, and atmospheric lighting design, this team of seasoned professionals has truly elevated the production of Find Your Eyes. The collective brilliance and collaborative spirit have resulted in a captivating and immersive theatrical experience that leaves a lasting impression on both the performers and the audience.
Benji Reid, a multi-talented artist and visionary, takes center stage with his remarkable production, Find Your Eyes. This captivating show is not only his brainchild but also a testament to his diverse creative abilities. Reid not only conceived the concept behind Find Your Eyes but also took on the roles of director, photographer, and writer, immersing himself fully in every aspect of the production.
As an artist, Reid has consistently pushed the boundaries of his craft, exploring the intersection of photography, dance, and storytelling. His unique approach to live photography has captivated audiences and garnered critical acclaim. With Find Your Eyes, Reid invites the audience into his creative world, providing an intimate glimpse into his process as he delves into themes of vulnerability, tragedy, and triumph.
In addition to his creative vision, Reid takes on the mantle of director, guiding the performers and shaping the overall narrative. His keen eye for detail and ability to draw out emotional performances from his cast breathe life into the production, ensuring that every moment on stage is infused with depth and authenticity.
Furthermore, as the show’s photographer, Reid captures the raw and ephemeral beauty of the live performances. Through his lens, he freezes moments in time, immortalizing the dancers’ movements and expressions. The projected images on the surrounding screens serve as a visual tapestry, further immersing the audience in the emotional journey unfolding before them.
But Reid’s involvement in Find Your Eyes doesn’t end there. He also contributes his literary talent, crafting the text that accompanies the show. His words provide a narrative thread, guiding the audience through his personal experiences and reflections. Through poignant anecdotes and vivid storytelling, Reid shares his journey, exploring themes such as mental health struggles, identity, and family dynamics. His words serve as a powerful accompaniment to the visual and performative elements, deepening the connection between the audience and the artist.
In essence, Find Your Eyes is the culmination of Benji Reid’s artistic prowess. It is a testament to his multidimensional creativity, as he seamlessly weaves together direction, photography, and writing to create a captivating and thought-provoking theatrical experience. Through his vision and talent, Reid invites us to see the world through his eyes, encouraging introspection, empathy, and a renewed appreciation for the beauty found within imperfections.
Keisha Thompson is a talented writer, performance artist, and producer hailing from Manchester. Her remarkable achievements and contributions to the arts world are numerous. She holds the esteemed positions of Artistic Director and CEO of Contact, Manchester, and serves as Chair for the radical arts funding body, Future’s Venture Foundation. Additionally, Keisha is an ITC board member and was honored with The Arts Foundation Theatre Makers Award in 2021.
Among her recent works are several noteworthy projects. Notably, she collaborated with Fuel Theatre to create the children’s show “Issy, BOSSS & Fractal,” directed by Alan Lane of Slung Low. Another significant production is “The Bell Curves,” a thought-provoking all-female show that delves into the intersection of science and culture, exploring medical ethics related to CRISPR-Cas9 technology. The show received support from Eclipse, York Theatre Royal, and Pilot.
Keisha’s dedication to examining societal issues continues in her immersive theatre piece titled “14%.” This performance, supported by Talawa Firsts, scrutinizes DNA tests and structural racism, particularly within the context of British football culture.
In May 2022, Keisha embarked on a residency with Esplanade Theatre in Singapore. During this period, she focused on her ongoing project, “DeCipher.” This ambitious educational endeavor seeks to transform mathematical pedagogy, making it accessible and creative in unconventional spaces. Her ultimate goal is to decolonize, democratize, and dismantle conventional teaching methods, fostering interactions that promote agency, joy, and discovery. “DeCipher” aims to create a math lesson that feels akin to a poetry workshop, a dance class, or an interactive installation.
One of Keisha’s major accomplishments is her award-winning solo show, “Man on the Moon,” which concluded its tour in 2020. Her poetry and the script from the show have been compiled into her debut book, “Lunar.” Due to its popularity, the book had to be reprinted after selling out 250 copies. Accompanying this, Keisha released the poetic mini-album “Moonwhile,” featuring music from the show.
Continuing her passion for music, Keisha collaborated with Tom “Werkha” Leah and the talented cellist Abel Selaocoe to release the captivating mini-album “Ephemera” in August 2020. The album’s performances, including appearances at the We Out Here Festival and Timber Festival, garnered praise and recognition, earning it the title of album of the week by Jazz FM DJ Tim Garcia.
Throughout her career, Keisha has been a source of support and inspiration for numerous artists, including Kae Tempest, Hollie McNish, The Last Poets, Saul Williams, and Amiri Baraka. Her work has graced prestigious venues and platforms such as Tate Modern, Blue Dot Festival, and the British Council Showcase in Edinburgh.
A testament to her versatility and dedication to the arts, Keisha was the dramaturg for “Find Your Eyes” by Benji Reid. In this role, she collaborated with Benji Reid during the early research and development phase of the show. When asked about the title “Find Your Eyes,” Benji Reid responded seriously, stating that it symbolized learning to see again, to truly perceive and feel, as sometimes we look without truly seeing. Through her involvement in the project, Keisha has been instrumental in shaping its artistic vision and message.
ANDREW (CHENGY) WONG
Andrew (Chengy) Wong, a versatile artist, has dedicated over three decades to his music career. Fuelled by a profound passion for music, he possesses an exceptional ability to connect melodies with emotions, honed by his discerning ear for sound.
As a seasoned DJ with a remarkable 30-year experience, Andrew stands as a true virtuoso in the field. His extensive knowledge and deep comprehension of diverse musical genres enable him to craft captivating sets that enrapture audiences, showcasing his mastery of the craft.
However, Andrew’s artistic pursuits extend beyond the turntables. His creative journey has taken him into the realm of sound design, where he explores and experiments meticulously. With an innate sense of artistry, he skillfully constructs immersive soundscapes that transport listeners to uncharted territories, leaving an everlasting impact on every project he undertakes.
Moreover, Andrew has embraced the transformative power of sound healing in his explorations. Understanding the therapeutic potential of sound vibrations, he has become a dedicated advocate for sound healing practices. Through thoughtfully curated frequencies and harmonies, Andrew employs these techniques to promote relaxation, balance, meditation, and overall well-being.
Yet, Andrew’s influence reaches far beyond his personal achievements. As a mentor, he selflessly imparts his vast knowledge and experience, guiding aspiring DJs on their own creative journeys. Through nurturing mentorship programs and personalized guidance, Andrew has become a profound source of inspiration for a new generation of talented individuals.
Ti Green, an acclaimed set designer, brought her immense talent and creative vision to the stage production of Find Your Eyes. With a background in Theatre Design from the Slade School of Art and a degree in English Literature from Cambridge University, Green’s expertise and artistic sensibilities shone through in her work for the show.
Known for her impressive portfolio, Green has designed sets for prestigious institutions such as the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and prominent venues across the UK, including the Barbican, the Young Vic, HOME in Manchester, the Birmingham Rep, Manchester Royal Exchange, Liverpool Everyman, Sheffield Crucible, and the Edinburgh Lyceum. Her contributions to the theatrical landscape have earned her recognition and accolades within the industry.
In the context of Find Your Eyes, Green’s set design played a crucial role in enhancing the overall experience for the audience. Each pose within the performance was meticulously set, evoking an almost religious atmosphere, which aligned with the thematic elements of the show. Green’s ingenious set design presented a triptych-like arrangement, with the live action unfolding in the center and photographs projected on either side. This clever layout intensified the visual impact of the performance and created a dynamic backdrop that perfectly complemented the narrative.
Green’s talent for immersive and site-specific design was exemplified in her award-winning work for HOME’s production of Romeo and Juliet at the Manchester Victoria Baths, which earned her the Manchester Theatre Best Design Award in 2015. Her designs have also garnered recognition beyond the UK, with nominations for the Critics Awards for Scottish Theatre and the Evening Standard award. Notably, her contributions to the Broadway production of Coram Boy in 2007 earned her nominations for two Tony awards and an Outer Critics Circle Award.
With her exceptional creativity and attention to detail, Ti Green brought her expertise to Find Your Eyes, elevating the production to new heights. Her collaboration with Benji Reid resulted in a visually stunning and immersive stage design that enhanced the overall impact of the show, captivating audiences and enriching their experience of the performance.
Lazerian, also known as Liam Hopkins, played a crucial role in the creation of 3D sculptural pieces within the theatrical show. His creative input and expertise in design brought a remarkable dimension to the production, elevating its impact and storytelling.
One of the standout pieces designed by Hopkins was the real-life deus ex machina, a wooden creation that held profound significance in the show’s finale. Literally meaning “god out of the machine,” this 3D vessel housed Slate Hemedi, portraying a god-like figure coming to rescue Salome Pressac, who represented Reid’s mother. This large and awe-inspiring structure was instrumental in advancing the storyline, delivering a “wow” moment that intensified the overall impact of the narrative.
Additionally, Hopkins contributed to the introduction of other significant pieces, such as the MF Doom metal costume and the Doom cloud structure. The MF Doom costume held immense importance as it symbolized the influential presence of MF Doom in Reid’s life. With Hopkins’ craftsmanship, the metal costume became a one-of-a-kind creation that exuded the essence of MF Doom and allowed his significance to shine through.
Furthermore, the Doom cloud structure, a moving piece that floated on stage, added a dynamic and ethereal quality to the production. Its presence enhanced the atmosphere and reinforced the emotional weight of the performance. Hopkins’ attention to detail and ability to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces were integral to the overall success of the production. Through his collaboration with Reid, he brought forth creations that perfectly complemented Reid’s vision, evoking powerful emotions and a sense of uniqueness.
Lazerian’s contributions to the 3D sculptural pieces within Find Your Eyes were instrumental in capturing the essence of the show. Through his craftsmanship and close relationship with Reid, he produced pieces that were not only visually striking but also deeply connected to the emotions and uniqueness that Reid sought to convey. The integration of these remarkable creations added an extra layer of depth and power to the production, ensuring that the audience was captivated by the story unfolding before their eyes.
Saskia Lenaerts, the costume designer for Find Your Eyes, brings a unique perspective and approach to her craft. Hailing from Hong Kong but rooted in Belgian heritage, Lenaerts is a talented designer with a Master’s degree in Menswear from Central Saint Martins. She sees fashion as a powerful tool for making an impact on society and considers her work a celebratory juxtaposition of diversity. Lenaerts advocates for a cross-cultural and borderless world, using fashion to challenge prejudices and promote acceptance.
One of Lenaerts’ notable approaches is her repurposing and redesigning of garments with a complex past. By taking surplus materials and decommissioned items, she breathes new life into them, creating pieces that reflect a brighter and more inclusive future. Her commitment to sustainability and conscious design is evident in her work, which not only showcases her creative talent but also carries a profound message of transformation and redefinition.
In the context of Find Your Eyes, Lenaerts played a vital role in creating costumes that supported the focus on creativity, photography, and storytelling. Understanding the importance of keeping the attention on the performers and the narrative, Lenaerts employed a minimalist approach to her costume designs. By avoiding elaborate sets and props, she ensured that the audience’s focus remained squarely on the artistic expressions and the stories being told.
Lenaerts was also responsible for the intricate headsets and headpieces worn by the performers during the photography sessions with Benji Reid. These carefully crafted accessories added a distinctive visual element to the show, enhancing the overall aesthetic while maintaining a seamless connection to the narrative.
With her keen eye for detail and her commitment to using fashion as a means of promoting inclusivity and breaking down barriers, Saskia Lenaerts made a significant contribution to the success of Find Your Eyes. Her minimalist costume designs and thoughtfully crafted headpieces allowed the performers and the story to take center stage, underscoring the power and impact of their creative expressions.
Tupac Martir, the lighting designer for Find Your Eyes, is an extraordinary creative force renowned for his ability to weave magic through light. Described as a light magician, creative visionary, and artistic genius, Martir’s involvement in the production has significantly contributed to its overall impact and success.
Martir’s illustrious career spans internationally acclaimed works in production design, visuals, and lighting direction for renowned artists and organizations. His impressive portfolio includes collaborations with the likes of Elton John, Sting, Jon Bon Jovi, Beyoncé, UNKLE, and performances at prestigious events such as Coachella Valley Music Festival. He has also lent his expertise to the realm of visual arts, having worked with Xu Bing at the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum).
Beyond the music and art world, Martir has made his mark in the fashion industry as an acclaimed lighting director. He has lent his creative touch to fashion shows for esteemed designers including Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Hugo Boss, and Prada. His ability to elevate the visual impact of these shows with his lighting design has garnered immense recognition and praise.
In the context of Find Your Eyes, Martir’s contribution is instrumental in creating an immersive and transformative experience. His lighting design sets the mood and tone for each scene, enhancing the storytelling and captivating the audience. Through carefully crafted illumination, Martir manages to transport the performers and viewers into the world of Find Your Eyes, allowing them to fully engage with the narrative being presented.
With his remarkable skill in manipulating light, Martir has succeeded in telling a story through lighting, adding depth and nuance to the production. The interplay of light and shadows under his direction has not only enhanced the visual aesthetics but has also heightened the emotional impact of the performances. Martir’s keen understanding of how light can shape and transform an environment has elevated the show, immersing the audience in the world that Find Your Eyes endeavors to convey.
Tupac Martir’s involvement as the lighting designer in Find Your Eyes is a testament to his immense talent and creative vision. His ability to craft lighting that sets the stage evokes emotions, and transports audiences is unparalleled. Through his artistry, Martir has played an integral role in shaping the overall effect of the show, making it a truly mesmerizing and unforgettable experience for all who witness it.