Community Tour

Victorian people in conversation on stage

Since opening in 1990 West Yorkshire Playhouse has played a key role at the heart of regional culture, presenting a diverse and innovative programme of produced and received productions. This has included involving dynamic partnerships with local, regional, national and even international artists, venues and theatre makers. This character is reflected equally in our innovative Community Engagement programme, which is a vital part of the theatre’s and the city’s culture. It is always person-centred, flexible and responsive, often pioneering and has a formidable reputation for its quality, scope and reach. Our Creative Engagement team works with thousands of people each year of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, from young carers to older people living with dementia.

A gap in audiences in key areas around Leeds was identified in 2014 and driven by social and artistic aims a commitment was made to address this. We launched with a community tour of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads to 7 Community Centres throughout the city, with over 350 people seeing the performance. Last year Little Sure Shot, a new play about the life of the infamous Annie Oakley, visited 8 grass roots venues and was seen by over 500 people. We are delighted to see a continuation in this growth with Kes about to embark on a Community Tour to 10 venues this June.

We credit much of the success of this work to our vital relationships with our Community Ambassadors, a group of passionate individuals who have enabled connections, partnerships and projects to emerge in each of these key areas across Leeds. Highlights have included a group of over 55 years olds exploring the text of Kes in Rothwell, a Cubs group in Burmantofts using Kes as inspiration to gain their Arts Badge and GCSE drama students creating their own performances in response to the story that will be shown on tour as a companion piece to the Playhouse production.

First Floor_Anthony Robling Scouts and Sam_Anthony Robling

Photography by Anthony Robling

This year we are taking Lifeboat on tour to various community venues across Leeds. Based on a true  true story, Lifeboat  is a tale of survival and friendship created by Catherine Wheels Theatre Company. Set in World War II, we follow Bess Walder and Beth Cummings – whose courage alone keeps them alive when they are stranded for 19 terrifying hours in the water on an upturned lifeboat.

“a piece of truly terrific theatre” – British


“Richly inventive and admirably challenging theatre for young people”- The Stage


“Engaging and energetic” – Entertainment Focus


Lifeboat is touring to the following venues:
Mon 15 May South Leeds Academy, Middleton, 6pm
Tue 16 May The Henry Barran Centre, Gipton, 7pm
Wed 17 May Swallow Hill Community College, Armley, 6pm
Thur 18 May St Bartholomew’s Church, Armley, 7pm
Fri 19 May Bridge Community Church, Burmantofts, 7pm
Sat 20 May Parochial Hall, Middleton, 7pm
Mon 22 May Chapel FM, Seacroft, 7pm
Thu 25 May St Mary’s Church, Hawksworth Wood, 7pm
Fri 26 May The Mandela Centre, Chapeltown, 7pm
Sat 27 May Blackburn Hall, Rothwell, 7pm


Photography by Anthony Robling

For further information about the Lifeboat Tour or our Community Ambassador Scheme please contact Ruth Hannant, Creative Engagement Manager on 0113 213 7295 or

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