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The artwork for Open Season featuring the words picked out in pink against a white background. Each letter is a composite of photographs of people performing and rehearsing.

Leeds Playhouse celebrates Open Season – a month-long festival of community theatre, dance, music and exhibitions

Leeds Playhouse is handing over its stages, rehearsal rooms, front of house spaces and meeting rooms to hundreds of local community performers so they can showcase and share their creativity.

Open Season, which runs from 20 June to 23 July, is an opportunity for individuals, clubs, choirs, dance companies, schools and theatre groups to perform in the city’s premier producing theatre. Leeds Playhouse’s Creative Engagement team has rejoiced in meeting with groups across the city to plan the festival. The epic project is supported by Playhouse staff from across the organisation, from box office to lighting and everything

As well as performances and sharings in the Courtyard theatre, Bramall Rock Void, Playhouse Bar & Kitchen and various other front of house spaces, there is also an extensive programme of workshops running alongside the festival, giving people the opportunity to enjoy a positive creative boost without having to perform. And because all events are Pay What You Can, everyone will have the opportunity to experience live performances as an audience member.

Alexander Ferris, Associate Director (Creative Engagement) at the Playhouse, said: “We cannot wait to come back together again for this wonderful celebration of creativity. Community performance is a vital part of the cultural life of Leeds and we are thrilled that we can play our part – sharing our spaces as part of Open Season with such an array of groups and individuals from all over the city and beyond. 

“Everyone at the Playhouse is so passionate about celebrating our city and its diversity. We are immensely excited to be able to support Leeds residents to share their voices, thoughts and creativity through this festival and we can’t wait for even more people to join us to watch, listen and enjoy.”

Here’s what Open Season audiences can look forward to:

WEEK 1 – 20-26 June

  • As part of Learning Disability Week (20-26 June), the Playhouse is inviting people to join its Beautiful Octopus Club Festival (BOC) Interaction Day on 20 June for music workshops, creative sessions, story-telling, sensory workshops, interactive games and self-led tours of the theatre. BOC is supported by The Big Lottery Community Fund and forms a key part of the Playhouse’s creative activity for adults and young people with a learning disability. BOC is also hosting a Tea & Cake Rave from 11am-1pm on 23 June. Run in partnership with The Party People Project, there will be DJs, dancers and, of course, cake. On 24 June BOC is joining a host of partners from across the city to celebrate incredible talent from across the autistic and learning-disabled community at Jubileeds Variety Show at Leeds Conservatoire from 5pm-9pm.
  • For national Refugee Week (20-26 June), the Playhouse is hosting a Wonderful Women of the World event on 24 June. This is for specially invited participants who the Playhouse works with as part of its regular Theatre of Sanctuary programme.
  • CLUB55 is a club night for people over 55 on 24 June from 7-10pm with disco lights, vinyl decks and – drum roll please – a glitter ball. Music will be provided by Seven By Seven, but groovers are invited to bring along their own 7-inch singles to DJ their favourite songs themselves.

WEEK 2 – 27 June-3 July

  • The Playhouse is partnering with Leeds City College and Yorkshire Dance on Ageless Festival from 1-2 July. No Time Like The Present from 11.30am-1pm on 1 July is a talk by movement and theatre artist Wendy Houstoun about the body’s capacity and desire to dance and the nature of time. It’s presented as part of Conversations on Dance and Age in partnership with Dance East, Sadler’s Wells and Yorkshire Dance. An Evening with Germaine Acogny at 7.30pm on 1 July gives audiences the chance to see the acclaimed choreographer, performer and educator’s documentary Ivy Tunde: The Mother Came Back and listen to her in conversation with performer, writer and dramaturg Funmi Adewole. On July 2, there will be a family-friendly Intergenerational Double Bill of dance: Improplay by Katy Hewison and In Your Shoes devised by TC Howard and Company of People, an intergenerational group based in Chapeltown and Harehills.

WEEK 3 – 4-10 July

  • Young people from the Playhouse Youth programme and from across the city will be taking over the Bramall Rock Void from 5-9 July for a joyous Young People’s Festival. There will be theatre, music and exhibitions celebrating creativity and questioning how we connect with ourselves and with others.
  • There will be a Young Carers’ Exhibition from 9am-5pm on 6 July in the Bramall Rock Void studio space.

WEEK 4 – 11-17 July

  • The Burberry Inspire Cultural Runway at 7.15pm on 12 July in the Quarry is a celebration of theatre, dance, sculpture and film devised by eight Leeds secondary school in partnership with Leeds Playhouse, Northern Ballet, Leeds Young Film Festival and The Hepworth Wakefield. It is the epic finale of a four-year schools project supported by the Ideas Foundation and Burberry Foundation.
  • Members of Leeds Playhouse’s Heydays group – its long-standing weekly creative programme for people over 55 – will be enjoying their end-of-term celebration from 10am-3.30pm on 13 July packed with singing, dancing, drama, creative writing and art.
  • Cockburn Multi-Academy Trust presents an evening of music, drama and dance at 7pm on 14 July in the Courtyard theatre, showcasing talented students from its three South Leeds secondary schools. There will be a wide range of performances as part of the Cockburn Showcase from rock bands to musical theatre, and from devised drama to contemporary dance.
  • Feeling Good Theatre Company, a group for older performers, invite you to Our Street from 2.30pm on 15 July and 16 July. Through song, dance, poetry and drama, they will explore the everyday lives of people from the 1940s to the near future.
  • Four fabulous Gospel choirs will be joining forces – and voices – for an uplifting Gospel Show in the Courtyard theatre from 7pm on 15 July.
  • Community groups from across the city will be coming together on the Courtyard stage at 7pm on 15 July for Force of One, a wonderfully eclectic talent show that allows everyone to shine.

WEEK 5 – 18-23 July

  • Leeds Playhouse’s Comedy Club for Older Men, which usually meets at The Malt Shovel in Armley, is hosting an informal lunchtime open mic event in the Playhouse Bar & Kitchen on 18 July from 12.30-2.30pm. You can sit back and watch – or join in with some of the comedy exercises if you’re feeling brave. The session will be led by artist Alexander Dunlop.
  • Brave Words Youth Theatre presents a series of insightful performances at 7pm on 19 July in the Courtyard theatre. Dystopia and Artifice is a trio of imagined futures featuring Castaway by Beeston Youth Theatre, a story of displacement and friendship in a time when water levels have risen and land is at a premium; The Algorithm by Meanwood Youth Theatre, set in a computerised world where careers are dictated by an algorithm; and Illegal Artists by Kentmere Youth Theatre, which questions the meaning of life without art.
  • The Playhouse is hosting a Community Showcase in its Courtyard theatre at 7pm on 21 July for performers from across the Leeds City Region to share their many and varied skills and talents.
  • HOme to my MOther is a collaborative hybrid contemporary dance performance on 22 July in the Bramall Rock Void by the Zoobin Surty Company “derived from mental health and trauma resonating with the universe”. The company is supported by Northern School of Contemporary Dance.
  • And finally, East Side Story at 7pm on 23 July in the Courtyard brings the month-long Open Season programme to a close with a multi-community performance created by Space2. It explores what happens when the beck starts to dry up in Gledhow Valley Woods and the resident boggart is forced to travel along the Wykebeck Way, discovering all manner of untold stories and heritage secrets. Co-created and performed by local residents, artists and community organisations, this project is supported by Leeds2023, Leeds City Council, Leeds Community Foundation, and Balbir Singh Dance Company.

All Open Season events are Pay What You Can, which means you can book your ticket on the Playhouse website as usual and choose from a range of pricing options, or book directly through box office (either on the phone or in person) and specify what you can pay. Please note that a £2.50 booking fee applies when booking online and by phone. Tickets are on sale soon.

For more information about Leeds Playhouse’s year-round community activities, clubs and events, visit Creative Engagement.

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Major funders
Arts Council England Leeds City Council The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation
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