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.”
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.