Renaming and New Season, 22nd June 2018
Feature by Dawn Smallwood
22nd June 2018 is a significant day for the West Yorkshire Playhouse when it announced that it will change its name to Leeds Playhouse. The theatre was originally known as this name when it first opened in 1970 following a successful campaign that started back in 1964. The theatre hasn’t looked back since and has now revolutionised the theatre industry and is renowned for its widest award winning engagement of arts in the community.
The Playhouse will close its doors after Searching For The Heart of Leeds in June and begin its exciting redevelopment and transformation programme soon after. In the interim, during the 2018/19 season, it will host a Pop-Up theatre programme on the existing site and across local venues and the Playhouse will have an ensemble company of 10 actors which will deliver the full programme of productions.
Jim Cartwright’s Road (5th to 29th September) will begin proceedings and is about everyday lives centring on a forgotten northern street through the medium of poetry. The popular Furnace Festival returns with Selina Thompson’s Salt (2nd to 3rd October) and Charley Miles’ Blackthorn (4th to 6th October) and then there is Leeds Playhouse production of Europe (12th October to 3rd November), written by David Greig and directed by James Brining. Leeds College of Music, The Leeds Library and the Howard Assembly Room will play host to Kash Arshad’s Airplays (23rd to 27th October), Emma Adams’ The Things We Wouldn’t Otherwise Find (6th to 17th November) and Jessica Walker’s Not Such Quiet Girls (29th November to 1st December) respectively. Leeds Schools and the Bradford Alhambra as well as the Pop-Up theatre will look forward to Nick Ahad’s Partition (6th to 10th November).
Christmas will see Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol (20th November to 13th January), a joint Leeds Playhouse production with Hull Truck Theatre. Ahead of its National Tour Barry Hines’ Kes (25th January to 16th February) returns to The Playhouse in the New Year. There is Debbie Tucker Green’s powerful random and the intergenerational Dinner 18:55 (22nd to 23rd February) which is part of the theatre’s older and youth programmes. One of new season’s highlight must be Leeds Playhouse’s production of Hamlet (1st to 30th March) starring Tessa Parr in the title role and is directed by Amy Leach. During Easter the Pop-Up site and community venues will feature Phileas Fogg Around the World in 80 Days (9th to 28th April) and the season will conclude with Amanda Whittington’s Be My Baby (11th May to 1st June) which is set in the 1960 and explores attitudes around teenage pregnancy and female friendships at the time.
The Leeds Playhouse offers, as before, an exciting season of varied and diverse productions which will appeal to many and address many issues that are so relevant today in many livelihoods and their communities.