Unfinished Business is a long term collaboration between artist/director Leo Kay and artist/producer Anna Smith. We are London based, making live art and participatory performance across the UK and internationally, with an evolving team of collaborators.
Together we make interactive and intimate performances, carefully excavating autobiographical material and working with artists and non-artists to explore new collective spaces for dialogue, ritual and the creation of shared meaning. We want to question all sorts of hierarchies, explore alternative political structures, celebrate temporary communities and listen; making space for the unheard to be heard.
"Body, mind and spirit all well and truly nourished following one of the most generous cultural events I’ve ever experienced." Only Wolves and Lions
Short bio: Leo Kay is a performance maker based part-time in London. His work has moved through physical performance and autobiographical storytelling to a practice situated somewhere-between a dialogue, an installation, and a workshop. Ritual, food, and fermentation have become tools for designing a deeper engagement with the critical issues of our times.
Longer bio: Leo Kay is an artist working as a performance maker, director, facilitator, mentor, and sometime performer. His work exists somewhere between live art, theatre and performance research, drawing on his history as a physical performer and embracing intimate audience address, interaction, site-specific investigation, autobiography and participatory social practice influenced by elements of ritual and relational aesthetics. His work explores authenticity, self-organization, and ways to bring into consideration our socio-political and ecological status quo.
Leo recently finished an intensive period of artistic research based at the artistic reseaech Institute of apass in Brussels
He emerged from this period of research with a developed participatory practice entitled: The Bakery Of Slow ideas Taking from his previous works The Bakery Of Slow Ideas is a durational participatory art practice based on the grounded process of making sourdough bread. It is underscored with a political critique of the burnout society that we are engaged in performing and implicated in the sustaining of. The practice suggests a necessity to explore alternative modes of existence; to favor the act of group consideration and the slow emergence of conscious, ethical and responsible action over states of anxiety-driven hyper-productivity. Central to this practice are processes that explore dialogue, ritual, deeper listening and collective DIY action.
Previous freelance projects:
Leo has worked as a professional performer with a range of companies including Clod ensemble, The National Theatre of England, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, The Theatre Laboratory of Manipur, Lost Dog Dance, Ron Bunzl (Amsterdam) and Gisella Rocha Cia (Zurich). He has acted as director and movement director for The Birmingham Rep (Decypher collective), Don Letts Presents Speakers Corner (CMN), Roundhouse, Contact Theatre, Quarantine, Polarbear and Baba Israel (NYC). He has taught workshops and run outreach projects in a variety of context including Taipei International Festival, the Kattaikkuttu Sangam Company of Kanchipuram (India), Au Brana Performance Research Institute (France), Vim Vanderkeybus and Ultima Vez (Brussels), Teatro Casto Alvez, Espaco Xi, Teatro Villa Velha (Salvador, Brazil), Contacting the World Festival Contact Theatre (Manchester). He also continues to act as a facilitator, artistic advisor and mentor for a range of both early-career artists and established art companies. recent roles include artist and Project advisor for Ice9 (Tromso Norway), Process facilitator for Block 9 (UK), Mentor for Shooter by 'Y?'(NYC), artist/collaborator with Eva Bakkeslett, process facilitator and collaborator with fine art duo KeelerTornero.
This website www.thisisunfinished.com, platforms both his solo projects and Unfinished Business, a long term creative collaboration with producer Anna Smith.
Anna works collaboratively across live art, theatre and community arts as a producer and production manager. Since co-founding UB with Leo in 2010, she has developed a creative approach to producing, working closely with artists to realise new performances, socially engaged projects and community based work.
Having managed UB for seven years and produced the work of performance maker Rachael Young for four (2015-19), she recently sidestepped to complete a masters in Applied Anthropology and Community Arts. This led her to work with community storytelling company - take stock exchange (TSX), where she now produces projects across London. It also encouraged her to develop a new community based LGBTQIA+ heritage project in South London, which after a Covid-19 related hiatus will be launching soon...
Whilst working closely with UB and TSX, Anna also production manages the MA Advanced Theatre Practice course at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where she supports students to develop innovative performance work.
Performer and Deviser
Unai Lopez de Armentia is a Basque theatre practitioner who worked extensively with UB as a deviser, writer and performer on ‘Only Wolves and Lions’. He graduated from Rose Bruford College, London in 2003 with a degree in European Theatre and, since, hasn't stopped performing and working with companies all over Europe and South America, leaving behind a life of political stuggle and drug abuse.
Unai is currently a member of the internationally awarded theatre company NIE. He is also a founding member of Obra Theatre (France) and Zecora Ura Theatre (Brazil).
At the end of 2013 Unai opened Sala Baratza Aretoa, a new independent arts Venue in Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain).
Musician and Capoeira Master
Mestre Carlão is a long-term collaborator with UB, most recently playing percussion for ‘It’s Like He’s Knocking’ in 2011/12.
An international master of Capoeira Angola, his workshops inspire and motivate a range of people, from the favela-dwellers of Rio de Janeiro to The Royal Shakespeare Company; from Juvenile Detention centres in Austin, TX and Seattle, WA to Brixton prison.
Carlão has been practicing Capoeira Angola since 1982 when he learned with Mestres Marco Aurelio and Jose Carlos. He also plays Pandeiro Brasileiro with percussion-master and fellow UB collaborator Pedro Lima.
Carlao spends his life travelling the world performing capoeira and percussion and runs Kabula Arts, an intercultural exchange between Rio, London and other global cities.
Pedro worked with UB as composer and musical performer for Leo's solo production ‘It’s Like He’s Knocking’. A renowned percussionist in his home city of Rio de Janeiro and internationally, Pedro spends much of his time teaching and performing Afro-Brazilian percussion across the world. He often works with Kabula Arts and Culture in both the UK and Brazil and has previously lead workshops with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford.
Pedro was a core member of the famous carnival group É Do Pandeiro and the all-star percussion group Lascamao. He first collaborated with Leo in 2008 on ‘In Blood the Bacchae’, a capoeira adaptation of The Bacchae at the Arcola Theatre, London, for which he was the Musical Director.
In 2009 Pedro composed a percussive score for the award-winning documentary 'Messias, Delicadamente Nobre', about the celebrated capoeira master Mestre Messias.
Performer and Deviser
Originally from Italy, Patrizia has been making experimental and physical theatre, comedy, live-art and music, from her base in London for the last seventeen years. She is collaborating with UB on ‘Only Wolves and Lions’ and recently joined Leo as co-host for their performances in Autumn 2013.
Patrizia’s solo and collective work is largely devised through a process focusing on improvisation as a creative and performative device. Through the years, she has worked with prominent experimental theatre companies such as Ridiculusmus, renowned live artist like Kazuko Hohoki and groundbreaking musician Adam Bohman. She has just attained an MA in Performance Making at Goldsmith College and founded the ensemble ‘Jesus Paolini Park’.
Diane and Leo have worked together on several projects over a span of fifteen-years; from large scale, site-specific collaborations in Birmingham to production work at Contact, Manchester, where Diane was Head of Projects. She is currently working with UB as a consultant to support their organisational, strategic and creative development.
Diane has created award-winning short films, digital art-projects, club & live music events and video art for numerous companies and productions. Whether leading strategic programmes or working independently, Diane has a passion for producing and developing work with young culture-makers as well as established artists.
Her previous roles include delivering the decibel programme for ACE West Midlands; launching a new carnival arts network/NPO in the East Midlands and working as Project Manager for the Cultural Leadership Programme where she created the inaugural ‘Women to Watch’ list profiling 50 female leaders, directors, producers and curators from across the UK. She is also currently working with Nitro as Executive Producer.
YAKO 440 is a Hip Hop artist: multi-instrumentalist, producer, human beatboxer, graffiti writer + family man.He holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Goddard College's Interdisciplinary Arts program. YAKO 440 has teamed up with Baba Israel, Sean Nowell, and Duv to form the "new rare groove" band SOUL INSCRIBED. Having created music with Baba Israel for over ten years, he is collaborating with UB on composing and performing music and sound for 'The Spinning Wheel'.
Baba Israel is a New York based hip hop theatre artists and international educator. He developed as a young artist exploring spoken word, Hip Hop, and experimental performance at venue such as the Nuyorican Poets cafe and with Akim Funk Buddah and the Nomadic Lotus. From 2009 - 2012 he was CEO/Artistic Director of Contact, Manchester. Whilst there he programmed Leo Kay's show 'It's Like He's Knocking', sparking off a new collaboration between the two artists on 'The Spinning Wheel', a multimedia autobiopgraphical performance, exploring the legacy of Baba's late father; steve ben israel.
Artist, Designer and DJ
Over the past few year Sam has become a core company associate, working with UB on a variety of projects doing whatever he can to help out.
As a trained graphic artist, he has designed much of the company’s marketing and communication material and uses video and photography to document and edit much of their live work. He is also collaborating with UB on upcoming film projects - 'Terminal 1 and 2' and 'Candomble: A Film in the Making'. Sam is also an ersatz DJ and tours with UB for 'Only Wolves and Lions', bringing bespoke, eclectic mixes to each performance.
Having graduated in Graphic Design from Salford University, Sam grafted for over four years in the commercial design and advertising industry, working for companies such as BBC Radio, PlayStation, Nickelodeon and Ministry of Sound. After taking an MA at UAL to focus on his love for the moving image, he set up the company, Lamb+Sea, with fellow filmmaker Lee Tesch. They've been making film, music, animation ever since.
Remi Stewart is a filmmaker and creative media specialist, who works with UB as a documentary-maker and video-artist. He's been involved in documenting several events since 2012, including 'Life: Making a Meal of It' and 'Only Wolves & Lions' and is currently working with UB on ‘Change My Mind’.
Since graduating in 2011, Remi has worked as a freelancer for a range of UK clients, developing and creating short films, documentaries, producing music and audio art installation and teaching media workshops. A technology and travelling enthusiast, Remi is currently working in international cultural development, taking a closer look at Brazil as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup.
Nao is a London based Japanese artist who immigrated to the UK at the age of 15. She trained as a Lighting Designer and has worked in diverse genres from cabaret performances to Opera, Circus to Live art, almost anything cross paths in performance world, touring nationally and internationally. She teaches Lighting Design at Goldsmiths, University of London.
As a performer she has worked with postmodern pop performance pranksters Frank Chickens (winner of Foster's Comedy God Awards 2010) and has devised and performed in shows by Hey Ho Ha.
In her spare time she is a denizen of the floating world.