Leeds Playhouse’s creative response to these rapidly changing times.
When our doors closed to the public as Covid-19 restrictions were introduced, our live stage work and Furnace artistic development programme stopped abruptly, and our Creative Engagement community work temporarily paused. Our natural instinct as artists, in a moment of crisis, is to bring people together in physical positive environments, which we couldn’t do. So we needed to rethink our priorities and ways of working.
We knew we must ensure that the Playhouse, set up by the people of Leeds for the people of Leeds, continues to be a shining light of community and hope, ready and able to open again when the restrictions are lifted.
We also made a choice for Leeds Playhouse’s immediate and main priority to be our Creative Engagement community work with our existing and potential new participants who are most isolated during this time.
Contact, support and activity for our most vulnerable participants
We have been running regular Zoom sessions, making phone calls or sending resources to People Living with Dementia; young people with learning disabilities and their families; refugees and asylum seekers; young people attending alternative education; plus schools . Activities have included the delivery of over 200 lockdown creative craft activities and interactive storytelling videos for our female refugee Asmarina Voice choir to share with their children, plus video resources sent to partner schools and over 100 calls to participants.
Supporting key workers
As well as supporting our Playhouse communities, we are showing our support for key workers and vital services, through positive messages on our external digital screen and offering our facilities to others where needed – for example, offering our washing machines and a cutting table for making scrubs.
Securing the future
Nearly all of our staff have now been furloughed as part of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, leaving a small team to deliver our current work. This has helped us to reduce our outgoings to secure the future of the Playhouse. We’re also working hard to re-schedule productions and are talking to artists, participants and audiences about plans.
We knew we must ensure that the Playhouse, set up by the people of Leeds for the people of Leeds, and a charity (255460), continues to be a shining light of community and hope, ready and able to open again when the restrictions are lifted.
Digital presence and communication
We are keeping active on social media and through regular emails, signposting digital streaming of our co-produced work, such as Night of the Living Dead: Remix broadcast through imitating the dog and Barber Shop Chronicles, a co-production with Fuel and the National Theatre, being streamed to thousands of viewers by National Theatre at Home from Thursday 17 May for a week.
We want to emerge from this situation having been useful to and supportive of the most vulnerable of our communities through these difficult times, and ready and able to continue to produce vital theatre for the people of Leeds and the city region.
Thank you for your support.
Artistic Director: James Brining
Executive Director: Robin HawkesClick to read more about Playhouse Connect
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