A surprise from Narnia for Gawber Primary School pupils!

We were delighted to welcome the children of Gawber Primary School in Barnsley, South Yorkshire to the afternoon performance of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe today…

Ahead of their visit, the children had been incredibly busy in their classroom preparing Narnia-themed artwork, including pictures, paintings, puppets, models, drawings and paintings of Aslan and Mr Tumnus, making Narnia money pots and even Aslan masks. They even have a table in their class named Narnia!

The pupils were treated to a very special surprise after the show, as the cast members from The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe came out to greet them. We hope you enjoyed the show Gawber Primary School, come back and see us soon!

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West Yorkshire Playhouse announces leading law firm Irwin Mitchell as first Principal Capital Partner for its major redevelopment

West Yorkshire Playhouse today announced a significant five year sponsorship partnership with the Leeds office of Irwin Mitchell as part of the Playhouse’s landmark redevelopment project.

Confirmed as the Playhouse’s first Principal Capital Partnership, the five year deal with the leading law firm provides the Playhouse with a vital contribution towards its £2.3m fundraising target as it embarks on a major new chapter in its history.

Irwin Mitchell in Leeds has been a committed partner of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s award-winning access programme since 2009, enabling the Playhouse to deliver more than 400 accessible performances and supporting its pioneering development of Relaxed and Dementia Friendly performances – the next of which are scheduled for February’s production of Still Alice starring Sharon Small.

The £14m redevelopment project, led in partnership with Leeds City Council, will be funded by £4.4m from the City Council and £3m from the Playhouse’s own resources (including ongoing fundraising), alongside a £6.6m Arts Council England contribution. The plans will deliver a full modernisation of the Playhouse building, including significantly improved access across the theatre and a brand new city-facing entrance, with work due to start this June. Plans have been confirmed as part of the agreement that the Playhouse’s new glass fronted foyer on St Peter’s Street will be named The Irwin Mitchell Foyer.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Executive Director Robin Hawkes said: “We’re thrilled Irwin Mitchell are joining our redevelopment project as our first Principal Capital Partner, celebrating our strong nine year relationship. I’m delighted our organisations can continue to develop the partnership in this way, and I’m incredibly grateful for this important contribution towards our landmark redevelopment. I’m really looking forward to working with the Irwin Mitchell team and welcoming them into the Playhouse as our relationship progresses over the next five years.”

Paddy Sturman, Banking & Finance Partner at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds, said: “We have been sponsors of the Playhouse for almost a decade now, something we are incredibly proud of. We are absolutely delighted to extend this relationship and take it to a new level ahead of an exciting period in the Playhouse’s development and at a time when access to the arts and entertainment becomes more central to the debate about city living.”

“The wider Quarry Hill development project is likely to be one of the most high profile developments in Leeds City Centre over the next two or three years and so to play a key role in facilitating the redevelopment of the Playhouse is extremely exciting and this latest agreement will raise our profile within the city. The theatre is looking to engage more closely with the business community in Leeds as part of its future strategy and this fits neatly with our own ambitions within the Yorkshire region.”

The law firm is also one of the Playhouse’s principal legal advisers, continuing to advise on a range of commercial matters for the Playhouse and its members.

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Full cast announced for new stage adaptation of Still Alice at West Yorkshire Playhouse, starring stage and screen actor Sharon Small

Full casting was announced today for the major new production of Still Alice, the stage adaptation of best-selling novel by Lisa Genova, adapted by Christine Mary Dunford. This West Yorkshire Playhouse production in association with Michael Park for The Infinite Group is directed by David Grindley (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Gate Theatre, Dublin), and explores the effects of early-onset dementia on identity, family and relationships, in an uncompromising yet tender portrayal. Still Alice opens West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Every Third Minute festival, a pioneering festival of theatre, dementia and hope that is the first of its kind.

Sharon Small, most recently featuring in the BBC’s Trust Me and Channel 4’s Born to Kill and well known for the BBC’s The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, takes the role of Alice, joined by Ruth Gemmell (Silent Witness, BBC; Penny Dreadful, Sky Atlantic) in the role of Herself, Alice’s inner thoughts.

Dominic Mafham (The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s Globe / World Tour; W1A / BBC) takes the role of Alice’s husband John, Andrew Rothney (Grain in the Blood, Traverse Theatre) joins the cast as Alice’s son Thomas, with Alaïs Lawson (Journey’s End, Fluidity Films) as Alice’s daughter Lydia.

Clara Indrani (Marcella, ITV) also joins the cast as Tamara and Micah Balfour (Emmerdale, ITV) features as Dr Davis.

Still Alice sees driven professional Alice Howland, a university professor at the top of her game, diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 50. Compelled to confront her new reality, she draws on her resilience to remain independent, fighting to maintain her identity as her world changes.

Director David Grindley saidI’m delighted to be working with such an incredibly talented cast and creative team on such a brilliant project at West Yorkshire Playhouse, and I’m looking forward to sharing such an affecting story with Leeds audiences. This production has a very rich context, rooted in the Playhouse’s pioneering work with people living with dementia, marking a key moment as part of the Every Third Minute festival.’  

Consultant living with dementia Wendy Mitchell joins the creative team, working with the cast offering an insight into living with the condition. Designer Jonathon Fensom (Farinelli and the King, Shakespeare’s Globe / Sonia Friedman Productions) and Lighting Designer Jason Taylor (Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Out of Joint) join the creative team, alongside award winning Gregory Clarke (Albion, Almeidia) as Sound Designer and Composer, and Francesca Jaynes (Through the Looking Glass, Walt Disney Pictures) as Movement Director.

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West Yorkshire Playhouse announces Every Third Minute: a festival of theatre, dementia and hope curated by people living with dementia, opening with new stage adaptation of Still Alice

Continuing our award-winning work with people living with dementia, West Yorkshire Playhouse today announced the programme for Every Third Minute: a festival of theatre, dementia and hope.

The first of its kind, the festival has been curated by people living with dementia and their supporters, acknowledging every third minute in the UK someone will begin living with dementia.

An eclectic programme of performances, conversations, installations, training and workshops, the festival opens with the brand new stage adaptation of Lisa Genova’s best-selling novel of Still Alice.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Theatre and Dementia Research Associate Nicky Taylor said “We hear many stories about caring and grieving for people living with dementia, but we rarely hear stories of people’s experiences of actually living with dementia. Every Third Minute is about amplifying those voices and changing perceptions and attitudes, through a far reaching programme that broadens the narrative of dementia. Placing people with dementia in decision-making positions we can challenge the more negative expectations and limitations that can arrive hand in hand with a diagnosis, and instead celebrate their potential and creativity.”

Every Third Minute Festival curator Bob Fulcher said “I’m thrilled to have curated the Every Third Minute festival and I’ve enjoyed the process immensely. As a curator I’ve really enjoyed making decisions about all aspects of the festival, from the programme, to the festival’s title, logo and even the colours in the brochure. It’s been a real pleasure to be involved, and enormously satisfying to be asked to participate in this way.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said “I’m incredibly proud of this industry-leading festival, continuing our pioneering work with people living with dementia. Building on our reputation as the UK’s foremost Dementia Friendly theatre following introducing the first Dementia Friendly performance in 2014 and producing our Best Practice Guide in 2016, it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to put people living with dementia at the heart of the creative process. We’re delighted to be opening the festival with the stage adaptation of Still Alice, bringing Lisa Genova’s novel to life in a brand new production.”

Opening with a brand new version of Still Alice starring Sharon Small in the Courtyard Theatre, the performance programme, a diverse and far reaching selection of performances compiled by the festival curators, includes Three, three new plays co-written by people living with dementia paired with professional writers, live music from artist Hannah Peel, a rehearsed reading of Maggie May by award-winning playwright Frances Poet and Spare Tyre’s multi-sensory immersive experience The Garden for people living with dementia and their supporters.

A series of conversations, including a Dementia Wikithon, a session where people living with dementia and their supporters can edit the Wikipedia pages on dementia and related topics, and training and workshops for families, healthcare professionals and artists, will run alongside the performance programme, with more events and performances to be announced.

West Yorkshire Playhouse run regular activities for people living with dementia, including Our Time sessions for people living with dementia and their partners, Peer Support Sessions in partnership with other cultural organisations throughout the city, and Dementia Friendly performances. The Playhouse’s innovative approach has been recognised with national awards from the Alzheimer’s Society and National Dementia Care Awards.

Every Third Minute Announced Listings

Performances

Still Alice (9 Feb – 3 March) – David Grindley (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Gate Theatre, Dublin) directs star of stage and TV Sharon Small (The Inspector Linley Mysteries, Trust Me, BBC) as Alice in the brand new stage adaptation by Christine Mary Dunford of Lisa Genova’s best-selling novel. Marking a key moment in the Every Third Minute festival, Still Alice explores the effects of early-onset dementia on identity, family and relationships, in this uncompromising yet tender portrayal. Still Alice is a West Yorkshire Playhouse production in association with Michael Park for The Infinite Group.

Maggie May by Frances Poet, Rehearsed Reading (26 Feb) – A rehearsed reading of a brand new Playhouse commission that explores the experience of living with dementia by award-winning playwright Frances Poet.

The Purple List (26 Feb) – Written by Libby Pearson and performed by Ian Baxter, this one man play explores the lives of two gay men as they navigate their way through the care system and the changes in their relationship.

This Is Us (27 Feb) – a performance platform showcasing new work by artists living with dementia in a supportive environment, including a chance for the audience to give feedback.

Blank Tiles (28 Feb) – World scrabble champion Austin Michaels used to know over 200,000 words, then he was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease. Since his diagnosis, Austin has been in a race against time to document his memories, before they fade. A humorous and poignant play by writer and performer Dylan Cole.

The Nature of Forgetting (6 – 9 March) – Following a sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe, this powerful, explosive and joyous piece by Theatre Re explores what is left when memory is gone through mime, physical theatre and live music.

The Garden (8 – 9 March) – Bringing the outside in, this multi-sensory journey through the seasons inspires imagination and awakens the senses. This immersive performance for people with dementia and their supporters is by Spare Tyre.

Three (9 March) – Three brand new short plays showcasing unique stories of life and flights of the imagination by rarely heard voices, co-written by people living with dementia and professional writers. Following the 9 March performance at the Playhouse, Three will go on to a two-week tour of Leeds care homes.

Hannah Peel: Awake But Always Dreaming (10 March) – Northern Irish artist and composer Hannah Peel shares her spellbinding music album live. The bright, raw magic and joy of personal relationships are set alongside the gradual loss of her grandmother to dementia.

Memory and Beyond (31 March) – Young people from our Playhouse Youth Theatre explore the fragility and importance of memories. A thought provoking evening of devised theatre, showcasing the unique perspective of living well with dementia through the eyes of Leeds teenagers.

Conversations

Creativity Testing (10 March) – A creative activity and conversation exploring how we might test for creativity in people living with and without dementia, with visual artist Charlie Harrison.

Dementia Wikithon (10 March) – A session for people living with dementia and their supporters, where they can edit and inform existing Wikipedia pages on dementia and related topics led by an expert Wikimedian.

Training and Workshops

Music for Life (10 March) – Music making sessions for people with dementia, the people who support them and general public exploring how music and improvisation can help us to experience the present, and communicate with others without relying on memory or words. Led by Julian West in collaboration with Wigmore Hall.

Installations

Skin to Mind – A video installation by artist Charlie Murphy showing the process of skin cells being transformed into brain cells, offer insights into the cutting-edge technologies used in dementia research.

Talking Life on Tour – An interactive phone with the personal stories and life observations of people experiencing dementia, led by Susanna Howard.

Creativity Testing, Dementia Wikithon, Music for Life, artist Charlie Murphy’s installation and Talking Life on Tour are projects led by Created Out of Mind, a team aiming to explore, challenge and shape perceptions and understanding of dementia through science and the creative arts.

Every Third Minute runs from Saturday 9 Feb to Saturday 31 March.

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Green light for West Yorkshire Playhouse redevelopment with Arts Council England funding confirmation and grant of planning permission

Arts Council England have today confirmed a total grant of £6.6m towards the landmark redevelopment of West Yorkshire Playhouse, with further news that the project has been granted planning consent, thereby giving the green light for a transformational moment in the theatre’s history.

The £14m project, led by Leeds City Council, will be funded by £4.4m from the City Council and £3m from the Playhouse’s own resources (including ongoing fundraising), alongside the Arts Council England contribution.

The plans will deliver a full modernisation of the building, including the addition of the new Bramall Rock Void studio theatre space, significantly improved access across the theatre, and a brand new city-facing entrance.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Executive Director Robin Hawkes said “This is a fantastic combination of news to receive just before Christmas. It is the culmination of nearly five years of hard work by so many people both at the Playhouse and at the Council, and means we can go into the New Year planning positively for a new era for our theatre. We are very grateful to partners at Arts Council England for putting their trust in us to deliver this brilliant project as well as for their ongoing input, guidance and support, and we look forward to giving Leeds the 21st Century theatre it deserves.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said “The Playhouse is used and loved by hundreds of thousands of people every year. The opportunity to make the theatre even more accessible, welcoming and fit for purpose for the 21st Century is one we relish. We take the responsibility of refashioning the Playhouse extremely seriously and look forward to many more years of fantastic theatre here in Leeds when we open the doors of the new Playhouse in 2019.”

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said “We are absolutely thrilled that this exciting project to transform one of our city’s most prominent and respected arts institutions has secured funding so pivotal to its continued progress. Working alongside our partners at West Yorkshire Playhouse for the past few years, our shared vision has been to reshape the venue into a modern, state-of-the-art theatre which is the focal point of a new cultural hub for the whole city to enjoy. This announcement will allow us to take a giant leap towards making that vision a reality, improving and securing the Playhouse and further enhancing our city’s world class cultural offering for future generations.”

Sarah Maxfield, Area Director North, Arts Council England said “I’m pleased that we have been able to support the exciting refurbishment plans for West Yorkshire Playhouse through our National Lottery funded capital programme. The plans to modernise the building mean that artists, participants and audiences will have an even better experience as one of the North’s leading theatres, and I look forward to seeing how the work progresses.”

The Playhouse will continue to stage work during the redevelopment process, temporarily transforming a workshop space on the theatre’s site into a substantial 350 seat Pop Up theatre.

A programme of work will run in the Pop Up theatre throughout Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019, with Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol announced as the Christmas 2018 production.

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West Yorkshire Playhouse announces final Spring/Summer 2018 Season before embarking on major redevelopment

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Spring/Summer 2018 Season presents vital world class theatre, showcasing innovative new work, thrilling drama and uplifting stories of Leeds and the world.

The season includes:

West Yorkshire Playhouse Productions

Every third minute in the UK someone will begin living with dementia. Continuing our award-winning, pioneering work with people living with dementia, the Playhouse presents the ground-breaking Every Third Minute (9 Feb – 31 March) a festival of theatre, dementia and hope. The first of its kind, the festival puts people living with dementia at the heart of the creative process, curating a broad programme of work from new theatre and workshops to live music from singer/songwriter Hannah Peel, and the joyous The Nature of Forgetting fresh from a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

David Grindley (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Gate Theatre, Dublin) directs star of stage and TV Sharon Small (The Inspector Linley Mysteries, Trust Me, BBC) as Alice in the brand new stage adaptation by Christine Mary Dunford of Lisa Genova’s best-selling novel of Still Alice (9 Feb – 3 March). Marking a key moment in the Every Third Minute festival, Still Alice explores the effects of early-onset dementia on identity, family and relationships, in this uncompromising yet tender portrayal. Still Alice is a West Yorkshire Playhouse production in association with Michael Park for The Infinite Group.

James Graham’s prescient political drama This House (23 Feb – 10 March), which played to sold-out houses at the National Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre and in the West End, launches its first ever national tour from West Yorkshire Playhouse. Set in the engine rooms of Westminster in 1974, this politically urgent production is directed by Headlong Artistic Director Jeremy Herrin, and designed by Rae Smith (Barber Shop Chronicles, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, West Yorkshire Playhouse).

Following the sell-out success of the 2016 world premiere, the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Red Ladder Theatre Company co-production The Damned United (27 March – 7 April) returns to Leeds. This passionate account of Brian Clough’s ill-fated tenure as manager of Leeds United will return to the Courtyard Theatre in a stripped back new staging before visiting venues across Leeds as part of our Community Tour programme, continuing the Playhouse’s commitment to staging work in the heart of our communities.

Transporting the Playhouse to 1787 Australia is Timberlake Wertenbaker’s classic drama Our Country’s Good (11 – 21 April). Directed by Fiona Buffini, this fully accessible production is produced by Nottingham Playhouse in association with Ramps on the Moon (Tommy, The Government Inspector).

Set to a classic soundtrack by The Proclaimers, West Yorkshire Playhouse’s brand new production of the life-affirming hit musical Sunshine on Leith (20 April – 19 May) opens in the Quarry Theatre before embarking on a major national tour. Scripted by award-winning stage and TV writer Stephen Greenhorn and directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, West Yorkshire Playhouse), this heartwarming, foot stomping adventure explores the true meaning of home.

West Yorkshire Playhouse is delighted to produce the world premiere of The Girl on the Train (12 May – 9 June). Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel adapt Paula Hawkins’ riveting best-selling novel, and hit Dreamworks film, bringing the thriller that enthralled the nation to the stage for the very first time. Directed by Joe Murphy, who makes his Playhouse debut following Woyzeck starring Star Wars’ John Boyega at the Old Vic, The Girl on the Train is a West Yorkshire Playhouse production in association with Simon Friend.

The joyous final production in the Quarry Theatre ahead of the transformative redevelopment is Searching for the Heart of Leeds (19 – 23 June), a celebration of the vibrant stories and people of our city. Performed by a community company, this empowering closing production is written by BAFTA-nominated writer Mark Catley, directed by Playhouse Director of Creative Engagement Alexander Ferris, (Rise, Old Vic Community Company) and with movement by the internationally renowned Phoenix Dance Theatre.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining, Associate Director Amy Leach and Director in Residence John R. Wilkinson direct the Courtyard Theatre’s closing production, Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads (14 – 23 June). Sharp, witty and pertinent, Talking Heads will be performed in the Courtyard Theatre, across the city in the homes of local Leeds residents and in community venues. This is a prelude to the Playhouse’s plans from Summer 2018; the doors to the Quarry and the Courtyard theatres will be closed for a major redevelopment, and the Playhouse’s artistic programme will be transported to new and exciting venues, including the Playhouse’s own Pop Up Theatre within its Quarry Hill home.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said:

“Our Spring/Summer 2018 Season will fill the Playhouse with vibrant and eclectic work both of epic and intimate scale. I want the work on our stages to continue to interrogate where we are in the world, UK and in the city we reside; questioning what it means to be human, what you call home, and where you lay your roots – from the joyful celebration of Sunshine on Leith to the quiet reflection of Still Alice.

Our creative work is made up of three component parts – the performance programme on our stages, our award-winning creative outreach activities with diverse communities, and our Furnace artistic development programme which supports new and emerging theatre makers to develop their practice. These three components are all interconnected and equally important to us – without the others each component would not have the strength and vitality that they do. Together they provide our audiences, artists and participants with a plethora of opportunities to get involved with the Playhouse.

Our upcoming redevelopment in 2018 is an exciting new chapter in the Playhouse’s history, providing us with the opportunity to further increase our contribution to the ever-growing and rich cultural scene this city has to offer. This is a ground-breaking moment which will transform the building and the organisation, improved access to and around the theatres, and the addition of a new studio theatre space in the Bramall Rock Void and providing a new city-facing entrance. As the redevelopment work begins, we will temporarily transform one of our workshop spaces here on the Playhouse site into a substantial 350-seat theatre. A full and varied programme of work will run throughout Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019 – creating a unique opportunity to experience the Playhouse as you’ve never seen it before. As part of that programme I am delighted to announce A Christmas Carol for Christmas 2018.”

Work at Live Art Bistro in partnership with West Yorkshire Playhouse
The Playhouse is committed to ensuring West Yorkshire has one of the most vibrant cultural landscapes in the country. This season the Playhouse, in partnership with Live Art Bistro, co-present two shows that are pushing at the boundary between narrative theatre and live art at Live Art Bistro’s venue on Regent Street:

Bradford’s ground-breaking learning-disability theatre company Mind the Gap present Mia: Daughters of Fortune (27 – 28 April). Created and Directed by Joyce Nga Yu Lee, this fast moving, raw and eye-opening production explores the truths and myths about learning disability and parenthood in today’s society, performed by learning disabled artists.

Following a sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe, the award winning Sh!t Theatre present DollyWould (11 12 May), a bold new show about country legend Dolly Parton, cloning, branding, immortality and death.

Work in the Barber Studio
West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Artist Pauline Mayers presents What If I Told You? (13 – 17 Feb), a West Yorkshire Playhouse and Mayers Ensemble co-production. Carefully balancing theatre and dance, What If I Told You? immerses the audience in Pauline’s world as she invites them to pause, breathe and reconsider the stories we tell about our past and the history on which we build our futures.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Prime Theatre and Cahoots NI present Penguins (15 – 17 Feb), a delightful new theatre and dance production of friendship, fun and identity, celebrating being different and the ever-changing meaning of family.

Written by world record-holding beatboxer Testament and directed by Eclipse Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Dawn Walton, Black Men Walking (21 – 24 Feb) follows three friends who hike together on the first Saturday of every month, finding themselves looking back through history before they can move forwards. An Eclipse Theatre Company and Royal Exchange Theatre co-production.

Visiting Productions
Internationally renowned contemporary dance company, Phoenix Dance Theatre present the world premiere of Windrush: Movement of the People (7 – 10 Feb). A lively celebration of the rise of multicultural Britain celebrating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush that bought the first Caribbean migrants to the UK, Windrush: Movement of the People debuts as part of Phoenix Dance Theatre’s 2018 Mixed Programme.

Birdsong Productions Ltd in association with Original Theatre present Birdsong (13 – 17 Feb), a mesmerising story of love and courage. A young Englishman embarks on a passionate and dangerous affair with the beautiful Isabelle Azaire in pre-war France, turning both their worlds upside down. This adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff of Sebastian Faulks’ bestselling novel marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1.

Bursting with growing grannies, feathery farm animals and bags of frothbuggling family fun, Curve and Rose Theatre Kingston present the magnificent George’s Marvellous Medicine (13 – 17 March). Filled with adventure as plucky George contends with his grumbling, grouchy Grandma, Roald Dahl’s treasured tale is set to delight children and adults alike in this phizz-whizzing spectacular.

The world famous Teletubbies are starring in their first ever theatre show Teletubbies Live (27 – 28 March). Join Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po in a performance full of love, fun and laughter as they explore the magical world of Teletubbyland.

Peppa Pig and friends make a fantastic return to the Playhouse with brand new live show Peppa Pig’s Adventure! (9 – 10 June). Join Peppa and friends as they get ready to go on an exciting camping trip to the woods, full of games, laughter and live music.

Award-winning Mark Thomas returns to West Yorkshire Playhouse with the funny, moving and necessary Showtime From The Frontline (15 – 17 March). Presented by Lakin McCarthy in association with Theatre Royal Stratford East, Mark and his team set out to run a comedy club and put on two nights in Jenin in the West Bank, only to find that it is not so simple to celebrate freedom of speech in a place with so little freedom.

Transporting the Playhouse back to 1840 is the thrilling adaptation of Henry James’ classic ghost story, Turn of the Screw (20 – 24 March). As a governess takes a role caring for two orphans in a seemingly idyllic country house, she begins to realise they are not alone. This terrifying tale which inspired Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black is written by Tim Luscombe and directed by Daniel Buckroyd.

Kneehigh make a spectacular return to the Playhouse with the Bristol Old Vic co-production The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (20 – 24 March). Lovers Marc and Bella are immortalised as the picture of romance, but whilst on canvas they flew, in life they walked through some of the most devastating times in history. Directed by Emma Rice, this production told in Kneehigh’s inimitable storytelling style is interwoven throughout with music and dance inspired by Russian Jewish tradition.

Drag star Divina De Campo leads the cast of Dancing Bear (6 – 7 April). A dizzying cabaret of contradictions presented by Jamie Fletcher & Company and Contact, Dancing Bear explores the tightrope of personal integrity, social acceptance and mental health that many LGBT+ people find themselves precariously balancing on through a flip of pop tune and storytelling.

Brilliantly updating Pierre de Marivaux’s classic French farce, actor Nigel Planer (The Young Ones, Filthy Rich and Catflap) reimagines the 18th Century romantic comedy as The Game of Love & Chai (1 – 5 May). Seeing a modern Asian family in England grapple with love and marriage, this brand new production employs Bollywood song and dance to delicious effect in a clash of class and passion.

Northern Broadsides Hard Times (22 – 26 May) is a new adaptation of Charles Dickens great Northern novel. In a world where imagination is forbidden, dark, cold mills are interrupted by the colour and vibrancy of Sleary’s Circus in a touching and hilarious tale of suppressed love, seduction and longing.

Work presented outside of Leeds

West Yorkshire Playhouse, National Theatre and Fuel co-production Barber Shop Chronicles, inspired by a Leeds barber and currently playing at the National Theatre, will embark on a tour of Australia and New Zealand from 18 January.

Smash-hit spectacular Strictly Ballroom The Musical, presented by Global Creatures in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse, makes its West End debut at the Piccadilly Theatre from 16 March.

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Major Boost to West Yorkshire Playhouse Redevelopment

Following a substantial donation from The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation to the West Yorkshire Playhouse redevelopment project, plans have been confirmed to create a new studio space within the theatre, which will be named The Bramall Rock Void. This sizable contribution to the redevelopment in 2018 goes almost half way to achieving the target of £2.3m required to supplement the generous funding of the project anticipated from Leeds City Council and Arts Council England.

Built into a rock void that currently sits underneath the theatre’s box office, this dedicated, flexible and intimate new third auditorium will support the Playhouse’s commitment to developing new artists and continue to give space to its award-winning Creative Engagement programme.

The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation has been a committed supporter of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Creative Engagement programme for many years, and has previously backed the opening of First Floor (the Playhouse’s dedicated space for young people) as well as community engagement work that has happened across Leeds and West Yorkshire, and the Playhouse’s artist development programme. Their continuing support of the Playhouse will also extend and deepen the theatre’s reach during the redevelopment and on reopening.

The redevelopment of West Yorkshire Playhouse will mark a new chapter in the theatre’s history. As well as creating the new Bramall Rock Void, the redevelopment proposes to transform and modernise the building improving access to and around the theatres and a new city-facing entrance. The project which is managed by Leeds City Council has a total budget of £14m. Anticipated funding for the project is made up of £6.6m from Arts Council England (ACE), £4.335m from Leeds City Council and a £3.032m injection from the Playhouse’s own resources (including fundraising). The donation from The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation has helped to give the fundraising an early and very welcome boost.

Construction work will begin at the Playhouse from Summer 2018, continuing through to Autumn 2019. The theatre will remain open during the redevelopment works, presenting a season of work in a new pop-up theatre on-site.

Liz and Terry Bramall said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to support the creation of a new and exciting theatre space as part of the Playhouse redevelopment and to lend it our name. The Bramall Rock Void will be a unique space for new work and a wonderful platform for Yorkshire based artists and creatives. Our Foundation has supported James, Robin and the Playhouse team for many years now, and we are very proud of the work the theatre delivers and the support it offers young people and the wider Leeds and Yorkshire communities. The Playhouse is a huge asset for our region and we are delighted to be able to help to secure its long term future.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “The Bramall Foundations’ support over recent years has made a huge impact on West Yorkshire Playhouse. Their commitment to the theatre has been a vital and crucial element in us being able to realise our ambitions as a leading regional theatre with an award-winning and industry-leading creative engagement team. The new Bramall Rock Void space will help us to develop the Playhouse’s reputation as an innovative and nurturing organisation that works hard to retain Yorkshire born and based talent in the region.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse Executive Director Robin Hawkes said: “We are delighted to be able to recognise the incredible support and commitment the Bramall Foundation has shown the Playhouse. The Bramall Rock Void will ensure that we continue to programme new and emerging work as part of our core programme and deliver it in a more financially sustainable way. I am very grateful for the support we receive from the Bramall trustees and their personal engagement in our work is also very inspiring. Their faith and enthusiasm in this project has been a key driver for us.”

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8 facts you might not know about West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Christmas production of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

1. Carla Mendonça, mum Sophie Johnson in ITV’s My Parents Are Aliens, is playing the icy White Witch…

2. …and 23 metres of beautiful white faux fur have been used to make her incredible cloak.

3. Over 150 costumes have been created in our wardrobe department…

4. …and 63 magical puppets are being hand made from scratch in our workshop, including 22 mice, 1 cat…

 

5. …and 11 Narnian monsters!

6. The cast is made up of 17 extremely talented actors, plus 4 musicians live on stage…

7. …who will perform 72 shows across 8 weeks.

8. And finally, we’ll open our doors to over 40,000 audience members, as they experience the largest Christmas show in the Playhouse’s history!

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Due to popular demand, extra The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe performances added

West Yorkshire Playhouse is extending the run of festive spectacular The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe for a further week. Opening at end of November, this brand new adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ classic story will now run until Saturday 27 January.

This major new production will see West Yorkshire Playhouse’s 750 seater Quarry stage transformed into a 1000 seater theatre in the round, bringing director Sally Cookson and designer Rae Smith’s incredible vision to life.

Telling of four war time evacuees sent to live with an eccentric Professor in the country, an innocent game of hide and seek leads the children through a magical wardrobe marking the start of a life-changing adventure. Performed by a multi-talented cast including ITV’s My Parents Are Aliens actor Carla Mendonça as the White Witch, this visually spectacular production showcases stunning puppetry and aerial performance in this new adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ treasured classic.

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is a West Yorkshire Playhouse, Elliott & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber co-production.

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A Pevensie Family Day Out: The cast of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe explore Harewood House

With faux fur coats wrapped tightly and woollen socks pulled high, the cast of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, West Yorkshire Playhouse’s spectacular Christmas production, took a very special trip to Leeds’ Harewood House. The four war time evacuees, Peter (Michael Jean-Marain), Susan (Patricia Allison), Edmund (John Leader) and Lucy Pevensie (Cora Kirk), skipped through hallways and danced round lamp posts, all in search of the magical land of Narnia.

Harewood House, which opens its doors to the public this festive season with its very own Victorian Christmas, acted as the perfect backdrop for the cast to get into role. Taking in the grand surroundings on the Harewood estate, the actors took the opportunity to prepare to play the adventurous Pevensies taken in by the eccentric Professor Quirke in his country manor, ahead of discovering the land of Narnia beyond a very magical wardrobe.

Playing from 29 November, acclaimed director Sally Cookson directs a multi-talented cast in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, based on C.S. Lewis’ treasure classic. The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is a West Yorkshire Playhouse, Elliott & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber co-production.

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Director Sally Cookson on The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Quarry stage is to be transformed into a magical world this Christmas, staging the reimagining of CS Lewis’ much loved classic, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.

Spellbindingly enchanting, the production sees four war time evacuees discover an icy kingdom through a magical wardrobe, come face to face with the White Witch, and form a bond with the most unforgettable lion.

Directed by Olivier Award nominee Sally Cookson, (Peter Pan and Jane Eyre, for the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic and Hetty Feather in the West End and on tour), the production will see the Quarry stage transformed into a theatre in the round for the first time.

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is produced in association with Elliott & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber, and runs at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 29 November – 21 January.

CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is such a treasured classic. How you are approaching this new reimagining?
We are going to be devising this production which means that we don’t have a script at the beginning of rehearsals. Through collaboration and a shared exploration of C.S. Lewis’ novel, the script emerges during the seven-week rehearsal process. This way of working enables everyone involved from the creative team and actors to the stage management to input ideas about how to tell this story. The result will be a unique adaptation that reflects the entire company’s response to the book.

You’re collaborating with War Horse designer Rae Smith. Can you offer an insight on how the show will look and feel?
I’m a massive fan of Rae’s work and have always admired her creativity and skill as a designer, so it’s a privilege to be working with her on The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe. Rae understands collaboration and is a very playful designer. She doesn’t just sit in a design studio on her own working out what to do – she comes into the playing space with the actors and responds to what’s going on in the room. Several months before rehearsals began we did a two-week workshop where a lot of brainstorming and playing was carried out. Rae was a big part of that process – offering up ideas, sketching what we were doing and responding to the group. Her design was hugely inspired by what came out of that workshop – she doesn’t impose a design on a production but serves the story and how we as a company want to tell it. We will be performing The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe in the round and Rae has designed a beautiful set which will enable the cast to tell the story in a very theatrical and magical way – frozen wastelands, polar expeditions and arctic exploration have been an influence. Her costumes, although referencing the 1940s when the story is set, will be very playful and witty – building on the actors’ own personality as well as defining their character. Animals, humans and fantastical creatures will all have the magic of Rae’s touch.

Why do you think The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has such an enduring appeal?
Like all brilliantly written stories The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is multi-faceted, and each reader takes something different from it. For me, a big part of the story’s emotional heart is provided by its Second World War setting. The four Pevensie children are separated from their family and their home. Due to the evacuation, they have to leave their mother in a dangerous city where bombs are being dropped while their father is away fighting. The trauma of these events informs how each of the children behave and their need to see good overcome evil is played out in Narnia – a magic land where they are able to have some control.

The idea of going through an ordinary, dusty old wardrobe into a fantasy world is tantalising and thrilling. Our imaginations are piqued by this notion and it makes us look at our own wardrobes and wonder what would happen if we were to climb in and discover a strange new place. It is a simple fairy tale about good versus evil, but within its 160 pages C.S. Lewis explores what it is to be human, how we need to feel loved, how badly we behave when we’re scared, the beauty of nature and imagination, being brave, loyalty, family, friendship, winter, spring and summer!

What personal significance does The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe have to you?
I know the story from childhood, and from reading it to my daughter when she was little, and from the BBC adaptation from long ago, so I have a nostalgic, emotional connection to the book linked to my childhood and that of my daughter’s. But I am enjoying this new relationship I am forming with the book as I work on turning it into a piece of theatre. There are so many elements to the book and deciding how to interpret iconic features of the story, like going through the wardrobe into winter, how to create Aslan, how do we show Spring emerging etc – I’m loving the challenge and am forming a very close attachment to the book. It has such a solid structure and is expertly crafted, I have a lot of respect for C.S. Lewis – he knew what he was doing.

Who else is working on the project?
The creative team I’m working with are all at the top of their game, so I feel very lucky to have them on board. I’ve worked with Benji Bower (Music), Dan Canham (Movement), Adam Peck (Writer) and Gwen Hales (Aerial) several times, but Rae Smith (Design), Craig Leo (Puppetry), Bruno Poet (Lighting) and Ian Dickinson (Sound) are new playmates.

What connection do you have with West Yorkshire Playhouse?
It’s a theatre I’ve always wanted to work at. When I was an actress many years ago I auditioned for a show that was opening in Leeds – sadly I didn’t get the part!

Who is the production for?
Anyone between the ages of 7 and 107. I know that a visit to the local Christmas show is often the one annual theatre trip people make, so I want it to be special and appeal to all ages. It is also many people’s first ever experience of theatre. As well as telling the story as theatrically as I can I also want to ignite the audience’s imagination, and make them fall in love with theatre. Fingers crossed.

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Crumble’s Search for Christmas: West Yorkshire Playhouse’s enchanting Christmas adventure for 2-6 year olds

Join West Yorkshire Playhouse for Crumble’s Search for Christmas this festive season, a heart-warming tale of friendship and adventure, written, devised and directed by Robert Alan Evans (The Night Before Christmas, West Yorkshire Playhouse).

When winter comes it’s time for Crumble to hibernate. At least, that’s what Crumble has always been told. With the family hurrying and scurrying to make final preparations before the last leaf falls, a chance encounter sets curious Crumble on the most extraordinary adventure to discover the true meaning of Christmas.

A festive tale of friendship and bravery, this brand new production is set to delight both children and their grown-ups as curious Crumble discovers the magic of winter for the very first time.

Writer and Director Robert Alan Evans said: “Creating a brand new Christmas production at the Playhouse is a fantastic opportunity, it’s always a delight to share a new story with the warm Leeds audiences.

Crumble’s Search for Christmas asks what Christmas might look like if you had never seen or experienced it before. It’s about discovery, bravery and how true friendship can be the best Christmas present in the world. The production is an hour-long family experience for both children and adults alike.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “Crumble’s Search for Christmas is a brilliant new adventure, and I am thrilled to see Rob return to the Playhouse for the festive season. He is a fantastic writer, theatre maker and director and his work really speaks to audiences of all ages. This magical tale of Crumble’s extraordinary journey into the big wide world poses the question, what does Christmas time really mean? I can’t wait to share it with our young audiences and their grown-ups.”

Crumbles Search for Christmas stars Leeds born Riana Duce who trained at York University (The Jungle Book, Manchester Open Air Theatre), Bradford born and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama trained Lucy Bairstow (#DIGS, Theatre with Legs) and Leeds born Emily Goldie who trained at Manchester School of Theatre (Romeo and Juliet, HOME).

Crumble’s Search for Christmas plays in the Courtyard Theatre from Saturday 25 November to Saturday 30 December.

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How West Yorkshire Playhouse are celebrating the Leeds 2023 First Stage Bid

On Friday 27 October Leeds will submit its first stage bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023, and West Yorkshire Playhouse plan to celebrate in style. With stalls taking over St Peter’s Square there’ll be the chance to sample some of the finest food and drink the city has to offer, meet the people creating our culture every day, and have a sneak peek behind the scenes of our greatest cultural venues, including West Yorkshire Playhouse. As well as the programme of work on the Playhouse’s stages, we’re inviting the public to get involved in a range of free workshops and activity across the building from backstage tours to open rehearsals and creative writing workshops.

ActivityLocation and Time
The Tin Drum

On Oskar’s third birthday, he decides to remain a child forever. Armed with a heart full of rage and a seemingly indestructible tin drum, he sets about to reveal the world for what it truly is. A story retold by Kneehigh.

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Quarry Theatre

7.30pm.  Tickets from £13.50. Age guide 14 +.

Sarah and Duck’s Big Top Birthday

Join Sarah and Duck and a host of your favourite friends, including The Ribbon Sisters, The Shallots, Flamingo & John and Umbrella, as they plan a birthday party for Scarf Lady in their garden.

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Courtyard Theatre

10.30am & 1pm. Tickets £12.50.  Age guide 3+.

Backstage Tour

From our Quarry and Courtyard Theatres in to our Wardrobe departments and our rehearsal rooms, there’s no better way to take a look behind the scenes of the theatre than to take a backstage tour of the Playhouse. Tours will be starting in the Playhouse foyer every half hour between 11.30-12.30pm and 2-4pm.

Tours are free on 27 October, but need to be booked with Box Office on 0113 213 7700.

West Yorkshire  Playhouse

Every half hour between 11.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-4pm.

Visual Arts Workshop

Visual Arts workshop open to all running all day.

First Floor, St Peter’s Square

11am – 3pm

Music and Drama
For young people with a learning disabilityDesigned for young people with a learning disability aged 14 – 25. If you need one-to-one support, please bring someone with you.
First Floor, St Peter’s Square

Music 11am-11.45am
Drama 12noon-12.45pm

Music and Drama
For young people aged 11 to 19.

Designed for young people aged 11 – 19 who have done some arts activities before at school or elsewhere and want to try something new.

First Floor, St Peter’s Square

Music 1pm-1.45pm
Drama 2pm-2.45pm

Open Rehearsals (age 14+)

25 young people rehearse Zoetrope, a new play that deals with mental health premiering in the Courtyard Theatre on 2 November.

West Yorkshire Playhouse,

Rehearsal Room 2, meet in the Foyer
11.30am-12noon, 12.30pm-1pm, 2.30pm-3pm.

Max. of 15 per visit.

Kneehigh Theatre Storytelling

Two Kneehigh Artists tell inspirational local stories they have collected from the people of Leeds

 

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Priestley Room
6.30pm.

Max. of 30 people.

Listen & Make

A family friendly activity surrounding the performance of Sarah and Duck’s Big Top Birthday. With a Story Den every 15 mins, plus arts and crafts.

 West Yorkshire Playhouse Foyer
11.30am-1pm, 2pm-3pm
Conversation Café

Meet participants from our Theatre of Sanctuary and learn about activities for refugee and asylum seekers living in Leeds.

 West Yorkshire Playhouse, Coffee Shop
1pm-2.30pm
Born and Bred Exhibition

A new exhibition from the project These Northern Types by Split, an exploration of Northern identity.

 Newlyn Gallery at West Yorkshire Playhouse
All day 11am-3pm

Click here to find out more

Creating the magical world of Narnia: bicycles, puppets, and 24 metres of white faux fur

Transforming West Yorkshire Playhouse into Narnia, the talented cast and creatives are well underway creating the magical world of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe in a brand new adaptation of C.S Lewis’ treasured classic.

In a first glimpse of rehearsals, the actors are pinned and fastened into rolls of faux fur and silk and adorned with glasses, tails, crowns and furry tails by an on-hand Wardrobe department as they start to bring their characters to life.

CITV’s My Parents Are Aliens actress Carla Mendonça is draped with 24 metres of soft and sumptuous white faux fur as she takes on the role of the icy White Witch, whilst comedian Alan Francis and Lucy Tuck tried out their snow-shoe beaver tales for the first time.

Designer Rae Smith said: “Experimenting with costumes, materials, puppets and props is a brilliant and interactive way of creating a character from within the rehearsal room. By simply dressing up and playing in role with the actors they begin to develop the physical storytelling of the show. A costume could come out of the imagination of the actor, or the story itself, making it a richer starting point which can give surprising results.”

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe tells the story of four war time evacuees whose venture through an old wardrobe sets them on a courageous journey to save the mystical world of Narnia from the evil White Witch. Directed by acclaimed director Sally Cookson, with a company of multi-talented performers including physical theatre artists, musicians and circus performers, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is a West Yorkshire Playhouse, Elliot & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber co-production.

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Kneehigh telling stories of Leeds

In preparation for the spectacular West Yorkshire Playhouse, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Kneehigh co-production The Tin Drum, performed by Kneehigh in their inimitable storytelling style on the Quarry stage, Kneehigh artists Anna Maria Murphy and Dom Coyote have sought out inspirational stories from the people of Leeds as part of their Rambles project.

Meeting and walking around the city with individuals from the Playhouse’s Young People, Older People, Community and Theatre of Sanctuary (refugee and asylum seeker groups) programmes, Anna and Dom have gathered inspiring tales creating original songs, poems and moving postcards celebrating the city.

The songs and poems collected by Anna and Dom will be performed by a unique choir made up of individuals from Asmarina Voices (West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Theatre of Sanctuary Women’s Group), First Floor’s Friday Night Music (the Playhouse’s dedicated space for young people), and Heydays (West Yorkshire Playhouse’s creative arts programme for older people). This free event will be hosted in the Playhouse’s bar area at 6.45pm ahead of The Tin Drum on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 October.

Join us pre-show on Tuesday 24 and Friday 27 October at 6.30pm in the Priestley Room, as Anna and Dom will share a free storytelling performance inspired by the tales of Leeds collected from the Rambles.

Additional activity delivered by Kneehigh artists includes writing workshops, teacher CPD sessions and artist and facilitator CPD sessions running from 18 – 26 October. For more information please contact Ruth Hannant.

Click here to book tickets for The Tin Drum

West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Artist Reece Dinsdale on (the fall of) The Master Builder

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Courtyard stage has been transformed in to the complex world of (the fall of) The Master Builder, a gripping reimagining of Henrik Ibsen’s classic text.

Thrilling and electrifying, this contemporary new production sees the highly successful architect Halvard Solness win the prestigious Master Builder Award, until a knock on the door from an unexpected visitor threatens to undermine all he has built.

Reimagined by award-winning playwright, screen writer and director Zinnie Harris and directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining, celebrated Yorkshire actor and West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Artist Reece Dinsdale stars in the lead role.

(the fall of) The Master Builder runs at West Yorkshire Playhouse until 21 October.

This production is a brand new adaptation, how does Zinnie Harris’ reimagining differ from Henrik Ibsen’s classic text?
Zinnie’s contemporary version has been inspired by Ibsen’s The Master Builder, but this is no mere translation. Zinnie has been inspired by Ibsen’s play to deal with wider, more relevant and contemporary issues that are present in the original but have been drawn out by shifting elements of the story and looking at the events of the play through a modern-day lens.

This version is called (the fall of) The Master Builder, does Solness have a long way to fall? How are you approaching the character?
Solness is fascinating character – a successful architect, seemingly at the height of his powers. On the surface, he’s a talented and personable guy. However, he’s at a certain age where his fear of growing older, and the inevitable decline that goes with that, is at the very forefront of his mind. Mostly he fears the ambitious youth who are rapidly catching up with him and whom he believes wish to drag him into the mire. Here is a man who has always had his own way… but for how much longer? Plus, he has secrets… secrets that he hopes will remain hidden. He is a man standing at the precipice, staring into the abyss.

As we get older we all worry that our best years (both physically and mentally), our most productive and creative times, might well be behind us. These are issues that worry most people, not just actors. Being of the same age, I can readily identify with certain aspects of the character. I’ve tried asking questions of him that I might well ask of myself. With Solness it gnaws away at him. Luckily, thus far, I myself have managed to remain a little more sanguine.

Can you offer an insight on how the show will look and feel with it being a contemporary version?
We’ve set the production in the heart of West Yorkshire – it could be Leeds, Huddersfield, it could be Wakefield. Whilst the production is based on Ibsen’s The Master Builder, our version needs to be viewed as a brand new play. It has a contemporary style and flavour, with some pretty ripe language at times, mostly all of it performed with Yorkshire accents. Someone even takes a selfie at one point!

This is the first time that you and James Brining have worked together. What are you looking forward to?
I think James is an extraordinary man – intelligent and insightful and with a generosity of spirit to go with it. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching his previous productions, including Alan Bennet’s Enjoy, Sondheim’s Into The Woods and Zodwa Nyoni’s Ode to Leeds… to name but a few.

We’d been talking for a while about doing something together. I like and respect him enormously and I think that’s hugely important. It can take actors many years to relax and be themselves in a rehearsal room. I know already that, with James, I will be afforded the best atmosphere in which to explore the role and hopefully get our combined creativity to flow. I’m hugely excited to be working with him, he’s a top chap.

Congratulations on being appointed as Associate Artist at West Yorkshire Playhouse, what does that mean to you?
It’s a huge honour to be asked. I absolutely love the Playhouse, the people who work in it, and what they are endeavouring to achieve. Whenever I enter the building, it always feels like I’ve come home. I helped open the theatre some 27 years ago, playing the central role of Jack Rover in Wild Oats, and here I am now, still giving it a go. It’s such a creative and thriving community and I’m just delighted to be able to do my bit.

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Inspirational women fighting for equality: Pink Sari Revolution

In India’s rural Uttar Pradesh province violence towards women is rife. Sampat Pal, leader of the notorious, working class feminist movement ‘The Gulabi Gang’, is fighting for change. With the gang boasting 400,000 members and growing, with a uniform of blazing pink saris, women are finding the strength and empowerment to stand up and fight against the violence in the ‘badlands’ of India.

Pink Sari Revolution tells the real-life story of the formidable Sampat Pal and the gang as they challenge the daily oppression. Based on a book of the same name by the internationally renowned author and journalist Amana Fontanella-Khan, this explosive new drama reveals the real cost of making a stand.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “This is a truly inspiring story of how a brave and strong group of women are standing up against the violence and demands a deep patriarchal culture has placed on them. It is a hugely powerful production and I am thrilled to be co-producing with our equally inspirational partners, Leicester Curve, Belgrade Theatre and English Touring theatre, to share this story far and wide.”

In a joint statement, Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said: “As well as entertaining, theatre holds a mirror to society and challenges the injustices of our times. The powerful true story of the Pink Sari Revolution does both of these things brilliantly. We are indebted to our producing partners at Belgrade Theatre Coventry, West Yorkshire Playhouse and English Touring Theatre and our project funders Arts Council England and British Council for enabling us to tell this incredible story.”

Pink Sari Revolution is directed by award-winning theatre director and Curve’s Associate Director Suba Das. The production has been adapted for the stage by Indian playwright Purva Naresh, winner of the United Nations Laadli Media Award for her work on gender. Pink Sari Revolution has Lighting Design by Olivier award winner Tim Lutkin and Set and Costume design by Isla Shaw (The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, West Yorkshire Playhouse). Incorporating elements of traditional Indian music and dance, Composition and Sound Design is by Indian Artist Naren Chandavarkar and Curve Associate Artist Aakash Odedra provides movement direction.

Taking the lead role of Sampat Pal is Syreeta Kumar, an actor known for her frequent work with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), as well as roles in television such as Apple Tree Yard and films including Notes on a Scandal.

The company is completed by Goldy Notay (It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, Bend it Films and Handful of Henna, Sheffield Crucible), Munir Khairdin (Whitechapel, Carnival Films and As You Like It, Curve), Ronak Patani (Macbeth, National Theatre and Primetime, Royal Court), Sharan Phull (Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre and The Importance of Being Earnest, Curve) and Ulrika Krishnamurti (Made in India, UK National tour and Rockford, Sic Productions).

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West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre and Leeds CAMHS join forces to tackle the stigma around mental health

A poignant production which explores young people’s mental health is being created by West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Youth Theatre in collaboration with Leeds Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

Written for West Yorkshire Playhouse by Rebecca Manley, Zoetrope follows seven young people as they tackle emotional and behavioural difficulties in a timely exploration of the mental health of our young people and the resources afforded to them.

In preparation for the performance the Zoetrope cast have collaborated with Leeds Community Healthcare’s CAMHS service, inviting both young people and NHS staff into rehearsals to share their insights and experiences. CAMHS provides services for young people under 18 when mental health issues get in the way of daily life.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Director of Creative Engagement Alexander Ferris said: “This production features young people from all over Leeds who take part in regular activities at the Playhouse. We are really proud of our Young People’s offer with over 500 people getting involved with creative activities every week. This production is a great example of how we like to work – to support young people to express their voices through high quality theatre.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre Director Gemma Woffinden said: “At West Yorkshire Playhouse we strive to make theatre that gives young people a platform to express their ideas about the world with real integrity. By working with CAMHS our young actors have gained an insight into the processes, job roles and most importantly first hand experiences of the challenges faced by young people suffering with mental health issues. It has been a truly valuable experience working with the CAMHS staff and patients in rehearsals.”

Vandhna Sharma, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Practitioner, said: “Being involved in Zoetrope has given the CAMHS young people a real sense of confidence and helped them realise how their knowledge and experience has made them the experts. Our CAMHS young people have loved learning about a theatre production and were touched by how polite and considerate the Zoetrope cast are, in particular when they shared their experiences of mental health and the support they received, which helped provide authenticity and depth to the Zoetrope characters.”

The audience get to see young people navigate their way through mental health difficulties and support processes from their perspective, as well as understand the impact it has on every area of their life.”

Zoetrope plays at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 2 – 4 November.

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Loud and passionate: Leeds young people making their voices heard at West Yorkshire Playhouse

A group of Leeds young people are using theatre to make their voices heard in a fusion of protest and performance inspired by punk Ian Dury and The Blockheads musical Reasons to be Cheerful.

Loud, passionate and accompanied by a live band, the energetic outdoor performance inspired by the raucous production will see twenty young people challenge the perceptions and assumptions made of the millennial generation in front of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s main entrance.

Created by an inclusive cast of 14 – 25 year olds from West Yorkshire Playhouse’s young people’s offer, including learning disability and young carer’s programmes, the performance uses theatre to protest against the label ‘Snowflake’, a derogatory term used to describe millennials as less resilient and more emotionally vulnerable than previous generations.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Creative Engagement Director Alex Ferris said:
“We are really proud of this group of young people who have united to share their views through this performance connected to Reasons to Be Cheerful. The group represent a range of ages and backgrounds from the Young People’s work at the Playhouse. This typifies what we do – bringing people together, regardless of background or experience, and offering them a platform to make their voices heard.”

Generation Snowflake is a free outdoor pre-performance taking place on 10 – 11 October at 6.55pm, ahead of Ian Dury and The Blockhead’s musical Reasons to be Cheerful at West Yorkshire Playhouse which plays from 10 – 14 October at 7.30pm. Part gig, part play, Reasons to be Cheerful is a celebration of Ian Dury and The Blockhead’s greatest hits, directed by pioneering disabled led theatre company Graeae’s Artistic Director Jenny Sealey MBE.

Click here to book tickets for Reasons to be Cheerful

Visually dazzling and daringly provocative: The Tin Drum in rehearsals

Creating the evocative re-imagining of Günter Grass’ seminal novel, the company of The Tin Drum lead us through a radical yet delicate world for this theatrically electrifying new production.

Making a dazzling return to the Playhouse, Kneehigh, alongside West Yorkshire Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, present Grass’s surreal and daring 20th Century masterpiece in Kneehigh’s celebrated storytelling style.

Directed by Kneehigh’s Artistic Director Mike Shepherd, The Tin Drum follows child Oskar as he refuses to grow up in an ugly world. Armed with a heart full of rage and a singing voice that shatters glass, Oskar sets about to reveal the world for what it truly is.

Visually spectacular, this West Yorkshire Playhouse, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and Kneehigh co-production plays in the Quarry Theatre from Tuesday 17 to Saturday 28 October.

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Full casting announced for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at West Yorkshire Playhouse

Full casting was announced today for the major new production of C.S Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at West Yorkshire Playhouse this Christmas. The co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse, Elliott & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber will be directed and devised by Sally Cookson and the company, taking audiences through the wardrobe into the mystical world of Narnia from 29 November 2017 – 21 January 2018.

The multi-talented performers making up the exceptional cast include physical theatre artists, musicians and circus performers. Working with such an outstanding ensemble, Cookson’s inimitable style and unique method of devising theatre will breathe new life into C.S Lewis’ treasured tale of adventure.

Peter Caulfield will play the loveable Fawn, Mr Tumnus. His extensive credits in theatre and television include BBC1’s Doctor Who, Channel 4’s Cucumber, and King Herod in the Olivier award-winning production of Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Joining him are Iain Johnstone as the great lion Aslan and CITV’s My Parents Are Aliens actress Carla Mendonça as the White Witch.

The Pevensie children will be played by Michael Jean-Marain as Peter, John Leader as Edmund, Patricia Allison as Susan and Cora Kirk as Lucy.

Lucy Tuck (Beryl, New Vic Theatre) will play Mrs Beaver, comedian and writer Alan Francis (War Horse, National Theatre/New London Theatre) will play Mr Beaver and wolf Maugrim will be played by Northern School of Contemporary Dance trained Ira Mandela Siobhan (Mosquitoes, National Theatre). The cast is completed by Amalia Vitale, Helena Parke, Sofie Lybäck, Tom Wainwright, Anwar Russell, Gareth Aled and Marie Hamilton.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe tells of four war time evacuees, whose venture through an old wardrobe sets them on a courageous journey to save the mystical world of Narnia from the evil White Witch.

Director Sally Cookson, whose recent work includes Jane Eyre and Peter Pan for the National Theatre and Hetty Feather in the West End and on tour said: “With the start of rehearsals imminent the team are incredibly excited to begin. I’m delighted to be working with this fabulous ensemble of extraordinary performers from a range of disciplines, including puppetry, dance and circus. The wardrobe door is opening…”

Award winning War Horse designer Rae Smith will transform the Quarry stage into a theatre in the round for the first time. Joining Sally and Rae on the creative team for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe are Leeds born Adam Peck as Writer in the Room, Ian Dickinson as Sound Designer, Dan Canham as Movement Director, Bruno Poet as Lighting Designer, Composer and Musical Director Benji Bower, Craig Leo as Puppetry Director, Gwen Hales as Aerial Director, Tom Paris as Design Associate, Associate Director Sarah Fielding and Jill Green as Casting Director.

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West Yorkshire Playhouse’s smash-hit Strictly Ballroom The Musical to transfer to the West End for Spring 2018

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s smash-hit spectacular, Strictly Ballroom The Musical, is to make its West End debut at the Piccadilly Theatre in 2018. Following the success of its UK Premiere at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2016, the opulence and glamour of Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical will begin performing in London from Friday 16 March 2018.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “We are thrilled that this exceptional musical is transferring to the West End after playing to sell-out houses here at the Playhouse – Leeds’ audiences absolutely loved it.

This production is full of heart, energy and world class dance led by the brilliant talents of Drew McOnie, and it will no doubt continue to delight audiences in the capital.”

Strictly Ballroom The Musical is the hilarious story that inspired the world to dance. Based on the multi award-winning movie and the first installment from Baz Luhrmann’s acclaimed Red Curtain Trilogy, the musical production is a kaleidoscope of colour and fun. When maverick championship ballroom dancer Scott defies all the rules of competition to follow his heart, he teams up with left-footed partner Fran to win the National Championship his way.

Featuring the film’s classic break-into-song numbers such as Love is in the Air, Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps and Time After Time, Strictly Ballroom The Musical also includes electrifying songs from a host of internationally acclaimed artists.

Strictly Ballroom The Musical is directed by Drew McOnie (On The Town, Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park; The Wild Party, The Other Palace; Jesus Chris Superstar, Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park; Jekyll & Hyde, Old Vic, and Hairspray, National Tour), and based on the original Australian musical created by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, with a book by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce and produced by Global Creatures. Casting is yet to be announced.

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West Yorkshire Playhouse is hosting National Theatre New Views Hub

New Views is the National Theatre’s annual playwriting programme for 15-19 year olds. Each year hundreds of students from across the UK learn about playwriting from some of the finest writers in the business and write their own 30 minute plays, with one play chosen to be staged at the National Theatre in London with a professional cast. This year marks the third year the Playhouse will run the course for a group of young people in Leeds. Last year one of the young people from the New Views 2016- 2017 at the Playhouse was shortlisted by the National Theatre with their play, receiving rehearsed reading by professional actors.

This group is for individual young people looking to learn and develop their playwriting talents in free weekly sessions with professional director Tess Seddon and award-winning playwright Charley Miles. Each week the session focuses on a different part of creating a script, generating ideas and developing your voice as a writer through exercises, discussions and feedback.

The Playhouse will host a group of 15 young people between the ages of 15 – 19 with an interest in writing for theatre; perhaps transferring their writing skills from another craft, such as spoken word or music, or performers who want to try something new. The course is great fun; though writing for the stage is a challenging craft that requires time and some dedication to completing a first draft.

The West Yorkshire Playhouse Hub will meet on Thursdays from 5-7pm on the following dates:

Thursday 12 October
Thursday 19 October

Half Term

Thursday 2 November
Thursday 9 November
Thursday 16 November

Christmas Break

Thursday 11 January
Thursday 18 January
Thursday 25 January
Thursday 1 February

If you’d like to participate, please fill out the expression of interest form by clicking the button below and email it to engagement@wyp.org.uk by Monday 25 September 2017.

New Views Expression of Interest Form

(the fall of) The Master Builder in rehearsals: a gripping reimagining

The cast of (the fall of) The Master Builder explore the tension and drama of a successful man confronting his past in rehearsals for Zinnie Harris’s thrilling adaptation, opening on the 30 September.

Directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining (Ode to Leeds, Enjoy, The Crucible, West Yorkshire Playhouse), this electrifying new production sees the unquestionably successful architect Halvard Solness achieve the truly admirable Master Builder Award, until a knock on the door from an unexpected visitor threatens to undermine all he has built.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Artist Reece Dinsdale (Richard III, Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories, West Yorkshire Playhouse) takes the title role, with Susan Cookson (Romeo and Juliet, West Yorkshire Playhouse), Michael Peavoy (Sweeney Todd, West Yorkshire Playhouse & Manchester Royal Exchange), Robert Pickavance (James and the Giant Peach, West Yorkshire Playhouse), David Hounslow (This House, National Theatre), Emma Naomi (Dead Don’t Floss, National Theatre), and Katherine Rose Morely (Last Tango in Halifax, BBC One) joining the rest of the cast.

(the fall of) The Master Builder plays in the Courtyard Theatre from Saturday 30 September to Saturday 21 October.

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Frantic Assembly’s Ignition is back!

Frantic Assembly will be returning to Leeds to find this year’s Ignition Company. We are excited to be joining their annual search for the next generation of performers. Have you got what it takes?

As well as visiting Leeds, Frantic will be travelling to other cities in the UK to find 12 of the brightest and bravest young men to form the Ignition 2017 Company, a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills, create original work and perform to a live audience.

Are you male? Aged 16-20? Are you risk-taking and energetic? Do you want to be challenged and achieve what you never thought was possible? Then this is for you!

Taster workshops are an opportunity to try out Frantic Assembly’s high-energy, risk-taking, physical style. Trial workshops build on skills learnt in the Tasters and discover the Ignition 2017 Company. Both workshops are completely FREE and you don’t need any experience to take part, just bring your energy and personality!

By coming to a Trial workshop, you are also automatically part of the Back Up programme, meaning further training with Frantic Assembly and other exciting opportunities at West Yorkshire Playhouse, just for you, even if you don’t get into the company!

Think you have what it takes? Sign up now on the Frantic Assembly website.

Taster: Saturday 23 September 11am or 2pm
Trial: Saturday 7 October

OR

Text the following to 07811439706
– Full name
– TASTER and/or TRIAL + Location
– Date of birth
– Email address
– Please let us know if you have any disabilities or special needs that we need to know about to – support you taking part in the workshop

To find out more about Frantic Assembly click here.
To learn more about first floor click here.

Celebrating the birth of Carnival: Queen of Chapeltown cast meet Carnival royalty

Celebrating 50 years of Leeds West Indian Carnival, the cast of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Queen of Chapeltown performed an exclusive extract of the play in Chapeltown’s Reginald Centre to an invited audience of previous Carnival royalty.

Past Queens and winning costume designers, including 1984 winner Angela Carr, 1989 winner Sheila Howarth and designer of over 20 winning costumes Hughbon Condor, met with the cast before watching an exclusive short performance from the show ahead of Wednesday’s opening night.

Founding carnivalist Arthur France MBE also attended the event, meeting with his fictional counterpart actor Raphael Bushay, who plays the role of Arthur in the production. Inspiring the Queen of Chapeltown story along with other members of the Leeds West Indian community, Arthur’s inspirational first-hand account of the birth of Carnival stirred much of this vibrant new production, celebrating a significant moment in Leeds’s history.

Following the journey of four West Indians as they arrive in 1960’s Leeds, the professional Queen of Chapeltown cast, including Chapel Allerton’s Emily Butterfield, will be joined by a 15 strong Leeds community ensemble.

Written by Colin Grant and directed by Amy Leach, Queen of Chapeltown plays in the Quarry Theatre, Wednesday 13 – Friday 15 September.

Queen of Chapeltown is supported by Leeds 2023

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Kneehigh’s dazzling return to West Yorkshire Playhouse with Günter Grass’ epic The Tin Drum

Kneehigh are making an epic return to Leeds with The Tin Drum, a West Yorkshire Playhouse, Kneehigh and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse coproduction directed by Kneehigh Artistic Director Mike Shepherd. A new adaptation of Günter Grass’ surreal seminal 20th century novel, The Tin Drum is brought to thrilling theatrical life in a visually dazzling, dark and daringly provocative production playing at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 17 – 28 October.

On Oskar’s third birthday he rails against the adult world and decides to remain a child forever. Armed with a heart full of rage, a singing voice that shatters glass and a seemingly indestructible tin drum, Oskar sets about to reveal the world for what it truly is. However, the world has other plans for our hero…

Exploring the rise of fascism through the eyes of a child, Günter Grass’ post-war masterpiece has never been more prescient. His classic novel, which presents anti-hero Oskar refusing to grow up as he watches the growth of ugly and suffocating totalitarianism around him, is reimagined by Kneehigh as part Baroque opera, part psychedelic white-out and part epic poem: a burlesque, a blitzkrieg and a tsunami.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Bringing said: “We’re delighted to welcome Kneehigh back to the Playhouse, and thrilled to be collaborating on this project with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse. Kneehigh’s popularity is certainly well justified, and I can’t wait to share this dazzling new production with the people of Leeds. Combining the Playhouse’s ability to tell truly epic stories with Kneehigh’s enduring inventiveness and imitable style, The Tin Drum will be an extravaganza of psychedelic music and theatre exploring and re-evaluating the conflicts of the 20th century through a contemporary lens.”

Kneehigh’s Artistic Director Mike Shepherd said: “I am thrilled to have reassembled the creative team behind Dead Dog in a Suitcase (and other love songs) for Günter Grass’ extraordinary novel The Tin Drum. Our iconic anti-hero, Oskar, will lead us through a world as delicate as moth’s wings and as incandescent as a blazing saw mill. A grand musical satire, it promises to be furious, funny and fiercely full of hope – a story very much for now.”

Written by Kneehigh regular Carl Grose, with music by award-winning composer and Kneehigh Associate Artist Charles Hazlewood, the ensemble cast include British mime artist Les Bubb, long time Kneehigh collaborator and composer Dom Coyote (The Night Before Christmas, West Yorkshire Playhouse), Kneehigh Associate Artist, puppeteer and puppet designer Sarah Wright, Nandi Bhebhe (946 – The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, Kneehigh), Damon Daunno (Beardo, Pipeline Theatre Company), Bettrys Jones (Life of Galileo, Young Vic), and previous Kneehigh collaborators on Dead Dog In A Suitcase (and Other Love Songs) Rina Fatania, Angela Hardie, Patrycja Kujawska, Beverly Rudd. The cast are joined by musicians Ross Hughes, Alex Lupo and Ruth Wall.

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West Yorkshire community ensemble prepare to perform alongside professional cast in rehearsal for Queen of Chapeltown

Fifteen community performers are currently in rehearsals for Queen of Chapeltown, West Yorkshire Playhouse’s vibrant new production celebrating the 50th anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival.

Recruited through open auditions in August, the community actors are from across Leeds and West Yorkshire, with some of the group already involved in the Playhouse’s Youth Theatre and First Floor, our dedicated space for young people.

The community ensemble play a vital role supporting the professional cast in the production, which follows the journey of four West Indians as they arrive in Leeds, bringing to life the jubilant hosting of the first ever King and Queen Show.

Inspired by original first-hand accounts from the West Indian community, Queen of Chapletown is by leading BBC Radio Producer, author and historian Colin Grant and directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Director Amy Leach.

Writer Colin Grant said: “Queen of Chapeltown is a play written for the people of Leeds, drawing on the vibrant spoken testimonies of local people. There have been numerous challenges: recreating the glamour and competing dance styles at the 1960s Mecca Locarno; populating a tiny bedsit in Chapeltown crammed with Carnival pioneers; and reimagining the giant Cooperative hairdressers brimming with trainees and improvers. None of that conjuring of the past could have been achieved without the creativity of our generous community cast. The Queen of Chapeltown lifts her crown to them all.”

The professional cast include Chapel Allerton based Emily Butterfield, Huddersfield based Gabriel Paul, Raphael Bushay, Benjamin Cawley and Elexi Walker who played Mercutio in the Playhouse’s acclaimed spring production of Romeo and Juliet.

Queen of Chapeltown plays in the Quarry Theatre, Wednesday 13 – Friday 15 September.

Queen of Chapeltown is supported by Leeds 2023

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This House: James Graham’s smash-hit political drama to kick off West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Spring/Summer 2018 season ahead of a UK Tour

James Graham’s critically acclaimed and prescient political drama This House, which played to sold-out houses at the National Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre and in the West End, will launch its first ever national tour from West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds on 23 February – 10 March 2018, with the National Press Night for the production held at West Yorkshire Playhouse on Tuesday 27 February, 7.30pm. This House will mark the opening of the Playhouse’s Spring / Summer 18 season before the production embarks on an extensive UK Tour.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “I saw the original production at the National Theatre in 2012 and I’m thrilled audiences in Leeds will have the opportunity to experience it in the Quarry Theatre here at the Playhouse.  This will be our fourth collaboration with Headlong in as many years and the relevance of the play, as British politics lurches from one crisis to another, remains as strong as when I first saw it.  Jeremy Herrin and his excellent creative team have produced a compelling piece of contemporary theatre and I can’t wait to see it in our space.”

Roll back to 1974. The corridors of Westminster ring with the sound of infighting and backbiting as Britain’s political parties battle to change the future of the nation, whatever it takes. In an era of chaos, both hilarious and shocking, fist fights break out in the parliamentary bars, high-stake tricks and games are played, while sick or dying MPs are carried through the lobby to register their crucial votes as the government hangs by a thread.

Set in the engine rooms of Westminster, This House strips politics down to the practical realities of those behind the scenes; the whips who roll up their sleeves and on occasion bend the rules to shepherd and coerce a diverse chorus of MPs within the Mother of all Parliaments.

This House is directed by Headlong Artistic Director Jeremy Herrin (People, Places and Things, National Theatre and West End Tour), and designed by Rae Smith (War Horse, National Theatre, Barber Shop Chronicles, West Yorkshire Playhouse/National Theatre/Fuel, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, West Yorkshire Playhouse), with lighting design Paul Constable, music by Stephen Warbeck, choreography by Scott Ambler and sound by Ian Dickinson. Casting is to be announced.

This House is produced on tour by Jonathan Church Productions and Headlong.

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Hit Musical, Sunshine On Leith, in a major new production at West Yorkshire Playhouse for Spring 2018

West Yorkshire Playhouse will take the city of Leeds on foot-stomping adventure with the hit musical Sunshine On Leith, by acclaimed writer Stephen Greenhorn with a soundtrack of classics from The Proclaimers, ahead of a UK tour.

This final Playhouse production in the Quarry Theatre before the upcoming redevelopment sees Artistic Director James Brining (Into The Woods, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, West Yorkshire Playhouse) directing this brand new version of the award-winning musical. Set to the timeless songs of the much-loved band The Proclaimers, including “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)“, “Letter from America” and of course the emotive “Sunshine On Leith”, this feel good musical asks the question would you walk 500 miles for the one you love?

Craig and Charlie Reid from The Proclaimers said: “We are very honoured that one of the top theatres in Britain is mounting the show. We hope that the performances are joyful events for the cast and audiences.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “I am thrilled to be directing Sunshine On Leith, a show which is bursting with heart and energy. It’s such an entertaining and emotionally charged musical, which explores ideas of home and identity, falling in love and picking up the pieces when it all falls apart. As the UK questions whether it’s still one country and what “Britain” means in the 21st Century, this show questions if your roots and your home really define you. With the beautiful, barnstorming, popular songs of The Proclaimers as its soundtrack, the show never fails to ignite big and powerful emotions from its audience. I can’t wait to introduce it to Leeds and take it out on tour.”

Writer Stephen Greenhorn said: “It is fantastic to have the chance to revive and revitalise Sunshine On Leith with James Brining at West Yorkshire Playhouse. It has been 10 years since we first staged the musical in Dundee and I can’t wait to bring this musical back to theatre audiences in an exciting new production.”

Originally a stage musical before being transformed in to the 2013 hit feature film adaptation, Sunshine On Leith sees the return of servicemen Davy and Ally from war overseas to be confronted with relationships, blind dates and commitments. As the pair embark on intertwining journeys in love, they begin to question what home really means to them as they rediscover their sense of identity.

Brining’s fresh and affirmative take on this warm-hearted musical will have set and costume designed by Colin Richmond, who’s work includes Curve’s tour of Sunset Boulevard, Kiss Me Kate for Opera North and Wendy and Peter for the RSC.

Joining the creative duo, the Playhouse is thrilled to welcome back the formidable talents of David Shrubsole as Music Supervisor. His work nationally and internationally has included London Road and My Country at the National Theatre, The Wind In The Willows for the London Palladium and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

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(the fall of) The Master Builder: A contemporary reimagining of Ibsen’s classic drama

Halvard Solness is at the pinnacle of his career. His success is unquestionable, his status undeniable and his newest accolade, the Master Builder Award, is truly admirable. He’s on the precipice of unparalleled greatness when an unexpected visit stirs up memories of the past, which threaten to undermine all he has built.

Directed by Artistic Director James Brining (Ode to Leeds, Enjoy, The Crucible, West Yorkshire Playhouse), (the fall of) The Master Builder is written by award-winning playwright, screen writer and director Zinnie Harris, who celebrated success this year with three productions at Edinburgh International Festival.

Starring accomplished actor, director and Playhouse Associate Artist Reece Dinsdale (Richard III, Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories, West Yorkshire Playhouse) in the title role, the cast includes Susan Cookson (Romeo and Juliet, West Yorkshire Playhouse), David Hounslow (This House, National Theatre), Emma Naomi (Dead Don’t Floss, National Theatre), Michael Peavoy (Sweeney Todd, West Yorkshire Playhouse & Manchester Royal Exchange), Robert Pickavance (The Twits, Curve) and Katherine Rose Morely (Last Tango in Halifax, BBC One).

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “Zinnie Harris’ adaptation is a mesmeric and gripping exploration of power. This retelling of such a classic text feels timely, a contemporary story addressing gender, control and privilege. Zinnie breathes agency into Ibsen’s female characters, generating terrific energy, tension and jeopardy.”

Playwright Zinnie Harris said: “I’m delighted to be working with West Yorkshire Playhouse and James Brining to bring this new adaptation of Ibsen’s masterpiece to the stage. Reimagining Ibsen’s text has been fascinating and reframing the production for now has given the piece real urgent relevance. It’s been a pleasure to create this new and contemporary version that makes for a thrilling adaptation.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Artist Reece Dinsdale said: “I’m thrilled to be working on such an exciting project, (the fall of) The Master Builder being the follow-up role to Richard III, after my appointment as Associate Artist at the Playhouse. It’s an absolute pleasure to be back in this building and working with James Brining. Halvard Solness is a fascinating character to play – a man standing right at the precipice and staring down into the abyss. Someone at the very height of his success being forced to confront his deepest fears. His dread of the ambitious young, the steady decline of his creative powers, and the murky secrets of his past come right to the fore in the very moment we meet him.”

(the fall of) The Master Builder is designed by acclaimed set and costume designer Alex Lowde (Pygmalion, West Yorkshire Playhouse & Headlong, Enjoy, West Yorkshire Playhouse), with lighting by international lighting designer Sinéad McKenna and sound by award-winning sound designer and composer Jon Nicholls.

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Queen of Chapeltown: West Yorkshire Playhouse to mark Leeds West Indian Carnival 50th anniversary with major new production

Paying homage to Leeds’ rich culture, West Yorkshire Playhouse is working in partnership with Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee to celebrate the 50th Anniversary year of Carnival with the vibrant new production Queen of Chapeltown, as part of a season of Carnival inspired events.

Inspired by original first-hand accounts from the West Indian community, Queen of Chapeltown weaves recognisable Leeds voices from the real life events of Carnival’s birth in 1967 into an exuberant snapshot of this significant moment in British history.

Following four West Indians as they arrive in Leeds, including founding Carnivalist Arthur France MBE, the production spans a journey through time seeing the Quarry theatre transform from post-war Britain to the jubilant hosting of the first ever King and Queen Show. Surrounded by a company of community actors, a professional cast of five will share stories inspired by those involved in the inaugural Leeds West Indian King and Queen Show at Leeds’ Jubilee Hall.

This newly commissioned play is written by leading BBC Radio Producer, author and historian Colin Grant and directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Director Amy Leach, with dramaturgy by actor and broadcaster Burt Caesar and movement direction by West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Artist Pauline Mayers.

Writer Colin Grant said: “In an inhospitable post-war Britain a group of pioneering West Indians came up with a simple and defiant riposte: Carnival. Queen of Chapeltown captures that moment of extraordinary transformation: the birth of a tradition which, for one weekend in August, would wash away the bad taste of anti-immigrant sentiment with a burst of colour and flash of exuberance that would forever change Leeds and Britain.”

Founding Member and Leeds West Indian Carnival Chairperson Arthur France said: “I left the tiny island of Nevis in the 1950s, leaving my home and family behind for a new future in the UK. As a student in Leeds, I yearned for Caribbean culture and heritage and Leeds West Indian Carnival was born as an antidote to that yearning. I’m excited to see how Queen of Chapeltown will document the very beginnings of Carnival and the challenges we overcame to make it happen, and celebrate that first burst of Caribbean culture, music and art in Leeds 50 years on.”

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “Leeds West Indian Carnival is one of the oldest Carnivals in Western Europe and plays such a key part of Leeds’ cultural make-up. We are delighted to be working in collaboration with the Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee to share and curate pieces of work which celebrate and mark this moment within the history of the city of Leeds. For four years we have played host to the vibrant and joyous King & Queen Show and to be part of the city’s anniversary celebrations is tremendously important to the Playhouse.”

Director Amy Leach said: “This is the 50th year of Leeds West Indian Carnival and I am thrilled to be directing a piece as part of the major celebrations that are happening across the city. This is a play that celebrates and remembers those pioneering voices who, against all odds, pulled together this incredible event that has shaped the city. The production has risen out of interviews conducted by BBC Radio Producer and Oral Historian Colin Grant. Inspired by those first-hand accounts, Colin has created a play that explores the momentous year of 1967, and pays tribute to the young West Indian people who, unbeknownst to them, were making history.”

Continuing the 50th anniversary celebrations, events running alongside Queen of Chapeltown include: Leeds Carnival King & Queen Show, a joyous celebration with incredible costumes, steel pans and a Carnival Choir; Carnival Chronicles, written and directed by Zodwa Nyoni (Ode to Leeds, West Yorkshire Playhouse), a piece of new writing exploring migration, love and loss; and Carnival Messiah Film Screening, celebrating and commemorating 10 years since the final performance of Geraldine Connor’s inspirational piece.

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Furnace Festival 2017: A kaleidoscopic celebration of new theatre

This two week-long festival is an eclectic celebration of new work, fresh ideas and audacious artistic voices from Yorkshire and beyond, celebrating the best new theatre at all stages of development.

Firmly rooting the Playhouse as a hub for creative excellence and an artistic beacon in the North, the festival showcases the Playhouse’s commitment to supporting artists at all stages of their careers, from polished productions to initial creative explorations.

Combining the best new theatre, work in development and workshops and events, Furnace Festival 2017 celebrates the future of theatre on the Playhouse stages.

West Yorkshire Playhouse New Work Producer Gilly Roche said: “Furnace is a vital element of our work at West Yorkshire Playhouse. It’s our engine room, where artists test out new ideas, take wild creative leaps and push at the boundaries of what theatre can achieve. Furnace Festival is an eclectic celebration of some of the very best contemporary theatre in the country. We’re showcasing a kaleidoscopic programme of new work – from the very first spark of an idea to multi-award winning shows visiting Yorkshire for the first time.”

The best new theatre:

An Arc Stockton Production, developed with the support of West Yorkshire Playhouse
Written by Daniel Bye
Instructions for Border Crossing
Fri 15 – Sat 16 Sept, 7pm
A twelve-year-old girl sneaks across the border into her own country. Her parents watch her on a computer screen. The works of a half-forgotten performance artist seem to hold the key to bringing down a brutal system operating on our behalf and under our noses. Do you join in? Or do you look the other way? Leeds artist Daniel Bye returns to the Playhouse blending his trademark storytelling with a series of live interventions from the audience, the show itself being as unstable as the world it describes.

A Trans Creative and Contact coproduction
You’ve Changed
Tue 19 Sept, 7pm
Its fourteen years since Kate transitioned and a lot has changed. However, where gender is concerned, are we still stuck in the dark ages? Written by award-winning transgender artist Kate O’Donnell and created with Lea Anderson MBE, You’ve Changed, longlisted for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, shines a light on the ins and outs and ups and downs of transitioning through song, dance, hard-won wisdom and hilarity.

Presented in partnership with Live Art Bistro
Created by Nic Green
Cock and Bull
Wed 20 Sept, 8.30pm
Originally conceived for the eve of the 2015 UK general election, Cock and Bull sees performers Nic Green, Rosana Cade and Laura Bradshaw convene to perform their own alternative, party conference. Presented in partnership with Playhouse neighbours Live Art Bistro, the Total Theatre Award winning Cock and Bull is a transforming choreography of words and a passionate speech of the body, underpinned with the real-time energy of political dissatisfaction and Tory tongue-speak.

A West Yorkshire Playhouse, Royal Exchange Theatre, Roundhouse and Camden People’s Theatre coproduction in association with LittleMighty
Created by Testament
WOKE
Wed 20 – Fri 22 Sept, 7pm
Hip-Hop and feminism are on a collision course and Testament reckons he’s the guy to sort it out. A rapper and World Record Holding Beatboxer, he thinks he’s a right-on kind of guy – then his daughter is born and suddenly he’s not so sure. With beatboxing, spoken word, storytelling and hip-hop classics as you’ve never heard them before, WOKE sees Testament explore and unpick his own prejudices.

Commissioned by Northern Stage and Soho Theatre
Created by RashDash
Two Man Show
Thur 21 – Fri 22 Sept, 8.30pm
Abbi and Helen are making a show about Man and men. They want to talk about masculinity and patriarchy, but the words that exist aren’t good enough. So, there’s music and dance too. Winning a Fringe First 2016 Award and the Stage Award for Acting Excellence, Two Man Show is Rash Dash’s loud and raucous exploration of masculinity and patriarchy.

A Mother’s Ruin and West Yorkshire Playhouse coproduction
Hot Queer Smithy
Sat 23 Sept, 8pm
Manchester queer performance outfit Mother’s Ruin curate a kaleidoscopic cabaret of new work and debate on the final night of Furnace Festival. Join glamorous bearded drag lady Timberlina and a collection of Northern LGBTQ+ artists for a night of provocative performance and riotous discussion.

Work in development:

Scratch
Mon 11 Sept, 8.30pm
An informal showcase of raw and untested performance ideas whereby artists at all stages in their careers are given a platform to explore and interrogate new projects.

Rachel Mars and West Yorkshire Playhouse Theatre of Sanctuary
Joke Translation Service
Tue 12 Sept, 7pm
The length of a typical stand up comedian’s headline set, Joke Translation Service sees the most beloved jokes told from an array of cultures. If no one gets it, it’s explained away until we finally get the punchline. Performance maker and writer Rachel Mars presents this full-length work in progress sharing, in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Theatre of Sanctuary.

West Yorkshire Playhouse and LUNG Theatre
Trojan Horse
Wed 13 Sept, 7pm
In 2014, The Department for Education launched an inquiry into Islamic radicalisation in Birmingham schools. Three years later, opinion is still divided about what happened. Following the real life stories of the people at the heart of the enquiry, this full length work in progress sharing of documentary theatre investigates our failing school system, institutional racism and the imposition of British Values.

West Yorkshire Playhouse
Written by Olivia Hirst
The Annex
Thur 14 Sept, 7pm
Exploring an illicit relationship between a student and teacher, The Annex examines teenage love, naivety and fantasy. This full length reading of this smart and searing new play by Pontefract-based writer Olivia Hirst is directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Literary Associate Jacqui Honess-Martin.

Workshops and events:

Furnace Social Club Night
Sat 23 Sept
West Yorkshire Playhouse is launching Furnace Social Club, a new network for local artists. It’s a community, a conversation and a chance to come together, meet people and spark new collaborations. Over the course of the year, the Playhouse will host a series of Furnace Social Club Nights inviting local artists to informal get-togethers, from film screenings to board game nights.

Our first ever Furnace Social Club Night will take place on the final night of Furnace Festival. Hosted by Artistic Director James Brining, Associate Director Amy Leach and Creative Engagement Director Alex Ferris, the event will outline the Furnace activity across the next twelve months.

Further skills workshops, conversations and events held as part of the festival are too be announced.

Click here to book tickets

Partition: a unique radio and theatre collaboration marking a defining moment for the Indian sub-continent

West Yorkshire Playhouse and BBC Radio Leeds have collaborated to present Partition, a unique radio broadcast and live performance marking the 70th anniversary of the division of India and creation of Pakistan.

This specially commissioned radio play, written by Leeds writer and established arts journalist Nick Ahad, explores the devastating legacy of a religious division which cost around a million lives.

Enacted from the perspective of a modern day couple, Partition explores how the history of the Indian sub-continent continues to tear families apart many years after the events of 1947. As Muslim Saima and Sikh Ranjit prepare for their wedding hate threatens to destroy their union. Will love or hate prevail?

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director, James Brining, said: “We are thrilled to be working with BBC Radio Leeds to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Partition. It’s fantastic for two leading West Yorkshire organisations to collaborate by staging this production marking such an important chapter in the political and social history of the lives of many of the region’s citizens.

“This partnership offers us the unprecedented opportunity to combine both our knowledge and skills. To be able to share this story with the community, engaging those we may not otherwise reach, is certainly something to be celebrated.”

BBC Radio Leeds Editor, Sanjiv Buttoo, said: “Partition is very much an important landmark for our South Asian communities, and the memories of 70 years ago are still fresh for the current generation of British Indian and British Pakistani families.

“Historically this world event saw the largest ever movement of mankind, so we commissioned this play to give an insight of how it still affects our lives in a profound way.

“We are very proud and excited to be working closely with the team at West Yorkshire Playhouse to bring our listeners history in a modern, contemporary and relevant way”.

Directed by Stefan Escreet, Artistic Director of Ragged Edge Productions, the cast include Leeds based Balvinder Sopal (Call The Midwife, BBC) and Dominic Gately (Barnbow Canaries, Beryl, West Yorkshire Playhouse), Bradford based Mez Galaria (Peacocks, Theatre in the Mill) and Manchester based Darren Kuppan (The Tempest, Shakespeare’s Globe).

Partition will be broadcast on BBC Radio Leeds (and a number of other BBC local radio stations) at midnight on 14/15 August, marking the exact time when the British partitioned India 70 years ago. It will then be performed live in the Playhouse’s Courtyard Theatre from 8 September.

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West Yorkshire Playhouse to march hand in hand with Leeds Pride

On Sunday 6 August a 50 strong troupe from West Yorkshire Playhouse will march hand in hand at the Leeds Pride celebrations. Adorned with the vibrant colours of the rainbow, the team from the Playhouse will be flying their flags high for the generous and warm spirited event, which has made the City of Leeds a more colourful place since 2006.

Marching with our own very own Playhouse Queen, members of staff, artists and the community who work alongside the Playhouse will take part in the procession.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “ We are thrilled to join others across the city in celebrating the vibrancy and voices of LGBTQ+ people by marching at Leeds Pride Parade this year. This season, we’re collaborating with some of the best LGBTQ+ artists in the country to tell incredible stories for all ages. Acceptance, equality and empowerment are central to our values both on and off the Playhouse’s stages and we are proud to be a home for LGBTQ+ artists and audiences from Yorkshire and beyond.”

Running since 2006, Leeds Pride is the largest Pride event in the UK to still be a completely free with over 40,000 people attending over the weekend. In total there will be over 60 floats on parade culminating in an afternoon of vibrant entertainment on the main stage in Millennium Square.

Leeds Pride
Sunday 6 August

Click here to see What’s On at West Yorkshire Playhouse

Summer Sublets 2017

For two weeks from 31 July to 11 August (Monday – Friday), Summer Sublets invites professional artists from all disciplines to occupy the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

We’ll give over as many rooms as we can to artists who need rehearsal space, desk space, writing space, singing space, dancing space, recording space or breathing space. These rooms will be rough and ready, varied in size and spread all over this enormous building – from cloakrooms to meeting rooms and rehearsal spaces to dressing rooms. We want artists who are developing new ideas of all descriptions to fill the building with noise, activity and conversation.

Summer_Sublets_Feature2

We can’t provide any financial or technical support for Summer Sublets, but the Playhouse’s Artistic Team will be on hand to offer producing and dramaturgical advice if needed. We’ll also organise informal get-togethers over the course of the two weeks, so that all the artists in the building can meet up in the evening, start a conversation about what they’re up to and extend their creative community for the future.

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What we offer residents:

A residency in a space suitable to your creative practice, here at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. A residency of between three and ten days in length. Producing, administrative and dramaturgical support when available.

What we ask for in return:

A very informal sharing of what you’ve been up to over the course of your residency on Friday, August 11th at 5pm at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. This will be to an audience of selected WYP staff members and the other Summer Subletters.

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What we’re looking for:

We accept applications to Summer Sublets from across the UK, but we will prioritise artists who were born, raised or are currently living in Yorkshire.

We invite artists to explore specific projects during Summer Sublets. This could be an idea that you’ve always wanted a bit of headspace to focus on, or a new project that’s in its early stages of development.

How to apply:

If you’d like to apply to be part of Summer Sublets, please download and fill in the application form here and email it back to our Artist Development Co-ordinator, Jenny Sullivan, at jenny.sullivan@wyp.org.uk by Thursday 20 July at 6pm.

Find out more about Artist Development at the Playhouse

A far-reaching season comprised exclusively of newly written productions

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Autumn/Winter 17 Season is a vibrant collection of diverse stories from across the world, retold by exceptional theatre makers.

West Yorkshire Playhouse productions

Partition (8 – 9 Sept) is an exciting collaboration between West Yorkshire Playhouse and BBC Radio Leeds, for a radio broadcast and live performance marking the 70th anniversary of the fateful division of colonial India into two separate religious states. Written by Leeds writer and established arts journalist Nick Ahad and directed by Stefan Escreet, Partition explores the devastating legacy of a religious division which cost around a million lives, through the eyes of a modern day betrothed couple. Will hate, rather than love, prevail?

In celebration of Leeds Carnival’s 50th birthday, the Playhouse’s Associate Director Amy Leach (Romeo & Juliet, Kes, West Yorkshire Playhouse) directs Queen of Chapeltown (12 – 15 Sept). A newly commissioned play by Colin Grant, this exuberant snapshot documents the creation of Carnival, paying vibrant homage to the city’s rich culture and celebrating the role of calypso and Carnival Queens in rooting West Indian heritage in Yorkshire. Queen of Chapeltown is part of a major week of artistic activity in the theatre for Leeds Carnival 50.

(the fall of) The Master Builder (30 Sept – 21 Oct) is a reimagining of Henrik Ibsen’s classic drama for 2017. Playhouse’s Artistic Director James Brining (The Crucible, Into the Woods, West Yorkshire Playhouse) directs Associate Artist Reece Dinsdale in the title role. Written by Zinnie Harris this timely world premiere tells of a once great man whose past transgressions and abuse of power threaten to catch up with him.

The Tin Drum (17 – 28 Oct) is a thrilling new co-production by West Yorkshire Playhouse, Kneehigh and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse. This epically imaginative re-telling of Günter Grass’s classic novel explores love and war as musical satire, through the eyes of its exceptional and unreliable child narrator, Oskar. An adventure of protest, power and hope, The Tin Drum is directed by Kneehigh’s Artistic Director Mike Shepherd.

The world premiere of Pink Sari Revolution (7 – 11 Nov) is an impassioned protest through movement and music, against the tirade of female violence in modern-day India. Created by award-winning Indian and British Asian artists, this co-production with Leicester’s Curve and Belgrade Theatre Coventry is based on a true story of resistance, as documented in the celebrated biography by internationally renowned journalist Amana Fontanella-Khan and will be directed by Suba Das (Wipers, Curve Leicester).

Meet a fantastic and friendly creature for Crumble’s Search For Christmas (25 Nov – 30 Dec) created by the ever-popular Robert Alan Evans (The Night Before Christmas, West Yorkshire Playhouse). This charming festive adventure, which is perfect for 2-6 year olds, sees the mysterious Crumble escape hibernation and scurry up from the burrow for a night of wintry mischief.

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (29 Nov –21 Jan 2018) produced in association with Elliott & Harper Productions and Catherine Schreiber, this spellbinding new production is directed by Olivier award nominee Sally Cookson, (Peter Pan, La Strada, Jane Eyre, National Theatre). Transforming the Quarry into a theatre in the round for the first time, with design by the award-winning Rae Smith (War Horse), this enchanting story based on C.S. Lewis’s unforgettable book tells of four war time evacuees who discover an icy kingdom through a magical wardrobe, in Sally Cookson’s inimitable theatrical style.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said:

“This is a truly wide-reaching season of vibrant new stories, some well-known, some brand new, drawn from a rich range of perspectives across nations, cultures and histories, uncovering the new, the startling and the incredible through performance.

Audiences will journey from accounts of Partition India, across great 20th century European classics from Germany and Norway, and back to post-war Leeds where West Indians dream of re-creating Caribbean Carnival in Chapeltown.

Every piece is a fresh imagining; some respond to the social disjunctions that dominate today’s news headlines, some celebrate friendship and community, whilst also marking key historical moments in the living memory of the local and international communities in West Yorkshire and beyond.

Last season saw our first-ever co-production with the National Theatre, together with Fuel, on Barber Shop Chronicles, the stormingly successful UK premiere of Strictly Ballroom The Musical and an epic Northern Romeo & Juliet; Autumn/Winter 2017 continues this momentum, through stimulating, original stagings of incredible stories from personal protest to national uprising.

West Yorkshire Playhouse continues to work with the highest-calibre artists across the international performance scene. Sally Cookson, whose successes include Peter Pan, La Strada, and Jane Eyre with the National Theatre, will direct The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe in the first Quarry Theatre production in the round. Zinnie Harris has three productions at the Edinburgh Festival and Edinburgh Fringe this summer marking her status as a leading British playwright. Meanwhile, true originals, Kneehigh, are working with us to create a breathtaking re-telling of Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum, after their last sell-out Playhouse show, 946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips.

We’re also renewing our investment in locally created, small scale studio work, through our Artistic Development programme, Furnace, which supports and develops writers, directors and actors born, raised or living in Yorkshire.

Some of the most exciting, locally rooted productions in our previous seasons were developed by Furnace and showcased at our new work Furnace Festival in our studio. Returning for September 2017, the festival is a unique opportunity for artists and audiences to unite, sparking collaborations and nurturing the local theatre ecology.”

Visiting productions

The UK’s foremost narrative ballet company, Northern Ballet present the heartbreakingly moving The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (5 – 9 Sept). Divided by a barbed wire fence, two boys strike up an unlikely friendship against the backdrop of the unthinkable events of World War II. Never told before through dance, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is based on the book John Boyne, by special arrangement with Miramax.

Based on the internationally bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner (19 – 23 Sept) transports the Playhouse to war-engulfed Afghanistan, as two childhood friends are torn apart by a terrible incident which will shatter their lives forever. Heart-wrenching and pertinent, this tale of friendship spanning cultures and continents was originally produced by Nottingham Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.

Northern Broadsides’ For Love or Money (26 – 30 Sept) is a new adaptation of Alain-René Lesage’s savage eighteenth-century comedy Turcaret. A small town in Yorkshire sees a beautiful widow wooed by two suitors, leading to a rivalrous love triangle. This story of monstrous wealth and whopping lies is directed by Northern Broadside’s Artistic Director Barrie Rutter and adapted by Skipton-born writer Blake Morrison.

Pioneering disabled led theatre company Graeae in association with Belgrade Theatre Coventry present Reasons To Be Cheerful (10 – 14 Oct). Celebrating the infectious music of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, this punk rock musical and gritty coming of age tale sees young Vinnie and his mates lay everything on the line to see hero Dury’s sold out gig.

BAFTA award-winning CBeebies TV show Sarah and Duck is brought to life in brand new stage production Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday (24 – 28 Oct) presented by MEI Theatrical in association with Polka Theatre. Blending a fantastic range of puppetry, storytelling and music, the enchanting Sarah and Duck will delight younger audiences in this magical adventure.

Furnace Festival (11 – 23 Sept)

Celebrating the best new work at all stages of development, this two week-long festival is an eclectic celebration of new theatre, fresh ideas and audacious artistic voices from Yorkshire artists and beyond.

Amongst the programme a host of Fringe First award-winners return to the Playhouse, including Rash Dash with the critically acclaimed Two Man Show and Daniel Bye’s new political thriller Instructions for Border Crossing.

Other highlights include LittleMighty’s WOKE, a Playhouse co-production with the Royal Exchange Theatre, Roundhouse and Camden People’s Theatre performed by World Record holding human beatboxer Testament; LUNG Theatre’s work-in-progress Trojan Horse, co-written and directed by award-winning playwright and former Playhouse Trainee Director Matt Woodhead; plus readings of new writing including Northern Soul by acclaimed playwright Jim Cartwright and The Annex by West Yorkshire artist Olivia Hirst.

Continuing the Playhouse’s commitment to emerging and developing artists from across the region a scratch night, skills workshops, conversations and events will also be held as part of the festival.

Furnace Festival full listings

Scratch (11 Sept): An informal showcase of raw and untested performance ideas whereby artists at all stages in their careers are given a platform to explore and interrogate new projects.

Rachel Mars, Joke Translation Service (12 Sept): Performance maker and writer Rachel Mars presents this full-length work in progress sharing, in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Theatre of Sanctuary.

LUNG, Trojan Horse (13 Sept): This full length work in progress sharing questions the consequences of pushing our country’s values of liberalism and tolerance to breaking point.

Olivia Hirst, The Annex (14 Sept): A full length reading of the smart, searing and funny new play by Pontefract-based writer and founding member of the award-winning Lost Watch Theatre Company.

Jim Cartwright, Northern Soul (15 Sept): A full length reading of renowned playwright Jim Cartwright’s (The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, The Road) new work.

Daniel Bye, Instructions for Border Crossing (15 – 16 Sept): Leeds artist Daniel Bye returns to the Playhouse blending his trademark storytelling with a series of live interventions from the audience, the show itself being as unstable as the world it describes.

Transcreative, You’ve Changed (19 Sept): Written by award-winning transgender artist Kate O’Donnell and created with Lea Anderson (MBE), You’ve Changed shines a light on the ins and outs and ups and downs of transitioning through song, dance, hard-won wisdom and hilarity.

Nic Green, Cock and Bull (20 Sept): Presented in partnership with our neighbours Live Art Bistro, the Total Theatre Award winning Cock and Bull is a transforming choreography of words and a passionate speech of the body, underpinned with the real-time energy of political dissatisfaction and Tory tongue-speak.

LittleMighty, WOKE (20 – 22 Sept): Beatboxing, spoken word, storytelling and hip-hop classics as you’ve never heard them before, WOKE sees World Record holding beatboxer and rapper Testament unpick his own prejudices.

Rash Dash, Two Man Show (21 – 22 Sept): Winning a Fringe First 2016 Award and the Stage Award for Acting Excellence, Two Man Show is Rash Dash’s loud and raucous exploration of masculinity and patriarchy.

Mother’s Ruin, Hot Queer Smithy (23 Sept): A Mother’s Ruin and West Yorkshire Playhouse co-production, Manchester queer performance outfit Mother’s Ruin curate a kaleidoscopic cabaret of new work and debate on the final night of Furnace Festival.

The final night of Furnace Festival will see How We Tell Our Story (23 Sept), a launch evening reinvigorating the Playhouse’s Creative Engagement and Artist Development work. Offering one of the most comprehensive programmes in the country, the event will redefine how we define our work in these areas, presenting a vital new strategy for the next phase in the Playhouse’s journey. How We Tell Our Story is hosted by Artistic Director James Brining, Director of Creative Engagement Alex Ferris and Associate Director Amy Leach.

Click here to book tickets

A vibrant and inspiring Refugee Week

To mark last week’s nationwide Refugee Week, West Yorkshire Playhouse hosted a programme of performance, discussion and celebration.

Monday saw the Theatre of Sanctuary Great Get Together for refugees and asylum seekers, as part of the nationwide Great Get Together inspired by the late Jo Cox. Attendees received a warm welcome sharing poetry, dance and song. Monday also saw the screening of two short films, Migration and Settlement, created with refugees and the University of Leeds.

Common Cause, a discussion and forum event for artists, charities, local government and outreach organisations working with refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds ran on Tuesday, sparking important conversations and fresh connections. Local artist Akeim Toussaint Buck was also welcomed back in to the building, performing solo show Windows of Displacement.

Wednesday saw Bradford based theatre company Displace Yourself Theatre perform Free To Stay, a production exploring belonging inspired by real accounts of statelessness in the UK and overseas. Following the second performance of Windows of Displacement, a rousing Movements Across Time discussion held by a panel of academics and local outreach organisations engaged audiences.

The Refugee Council lead a public Myth Busting discussion on Thursday, exploring refugees’ personal stories and journeys, plus the facts behind the media coverage. Tim Baker’s Scattered, dramatizing the meeting of two cultures bringing a complex topic to life for younger audiences enthralled the younger audience members.

The Refugee Week activity ran alongside our regular programme for refugees and asylum seekers. As a Theatre of Sanctuary, West Yorkshire Playhouse offers a range of activities, including a dedicated women’s choir, youth and drama groups and special ticket offers.

Click here to find out more about Theatre of Sanctuary

West Yorkshire Playhouse shortlisted for top tourism award

West Yorkshire Playhouse has been shortlisted for a top tourism award in the much coveted Arts & Culture category as part of the prestigious Welcome To Yorkshire White Rose Awards.

The awards, which are the biggest celebration of tourism in the UK, recognise the very best businesses in Yorkshire. The 17 categories cover everything from hotels to holiday parks, pubs to producers and arts to attractions where the standard this year has been higher than ever.

Robin Hawkes, Executive Director of West Yorkshire Playhouse, said:
“We are thrilled to be shortlisted for such a renowned award – which showcases what this great region has to offer. The Playhouse is proud to provide world class theatre, with productions including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (which recently completed an award-winning national tour) and Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom The Musical. Alongside the work on our stages we also offer a comprehensive and diverse Creative Engagement programme, reaching out to marginalised or socially excluded people through creative activity. This has included attracting awards for staging the world’s first dementia friendly performance, and becoming the UK’s first Theatre of Sanctuary for refugees. We are also proud to support and develop actors, theatre makers and playwrights born, raised or living in Leeds and Yorkshire, investing in this region’s creative talent.”

Colin Mellors, chair of the White Rose Award judges, said:
“Yorkshire’s tourism businesses are truly exceptional – bringing large numbers of visitors and income to the region and enhancing our reputation at home and abroad. The sector goes from strength to strength and many of its established stars feature on this year’s White Rose shortlist alongside some welcome new additions. What they have in common is their firm commitment to ensuring guests enjoy unrivalled hospitality, produce, facilities and experiences. The fantastic scenery and heritage provide the icing on the cake.With so many strong entries, shortlisting was very difficult this year. Choosing the eventual winners is going to be really tough.”

Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said:
“The quality of this year’s entries has been exceptional and makes me feel hugely proud of all the brilliant work going on in tourism in the county. It’s an honour to be part of these awards that recognise the many businesses and organisations that make Yorkshire such an amazing destination. I extend my thanks to everyone who took the time to enter and huge congratulations to those who have made the shortlist.”

Winners will be announced later this year.

Click here to find out what’s on

A Look Back at 2015/16

As we approach yet another exciting season at the Playhouse, here’s a look back at 2015/16 – and what a truly amazing year it was…