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West Yorkshire Playhouse Announces Brontë Season For Autumn 2016

On the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth, West Yorkshire Playhouse is thrilled to announce its Brontë Season will take centre stage this Autumn Winter 2016. Exploring the extraordinary works of Yorkshire’s iconic literary family, the season centres on three new West Yorkshire Playhouse commissions: a major new adaptation of Villette, a work in progress staging of a brand new musical, Wasted and a collaborative digital project Know Your Place. These première alongside dance performances and panel discussions. The Brontë Season celebrates the legacy of these remarkable writers and explores their relevance for contemporary audiences by inviting artists to approach their work from a 21st century perspective.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said:
‘The Brontës are synonymous with Yorkshire and their impact and influence on our culture and heritage is phenomenal. In this 200th year of Charlotte’s birth, the Playhouse’s Brontë Season reimagines the work of these extraordinary women and invites artists and audiences to re-examine how their stories speak to us today. We’re thrilled to be collaborating locally and nationally to produce new interpretations that explore the radical angles of their life and art and curating digital projects that take our provocation out across Yorkshire and beyond, as well as inviting fantastic guest companies and speakers to share their responses.’

West Yorkshire Playhouse Executive Director Robin Hawkes said:
‘The Playhouse is excited to be working in partnership with the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth on this season of work. The Brontë’s writing is both rooted in and strongly influenced by the environment in which they lived and created their enduring characters and stories, which are known and cherished around the world and which we’re looking forward to exploring with our audiences. It’s important to us that we continue to reflect this type of local resonance in the work we commission at West Yorkshire Playhouse.’

Rebecca Yorke at the Brontë Parsonage Museum said:
‘We’re thrilled to be working with West Yorkshire Playhouse during this important bicentenary year. The Brontës are known world-wide for their novels and to be able to bring these stories to life theatrically, and to be made so relevant for audiences and visitors demonstrates that their enduring appeal resonates as much now as it has done at any point over the last two centuries.’

Villette is brought to life in a striking new adaptation for the Courtyard Theatre. Yorkshire writer Linda Marshall-Griffiths reimagines Charlotte Brontë’s ground-breaking novel whilst remaining true to its unique insights into loneliness, yearning and the redemptive power of love. It will be directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Director Mark Rosenblatt.

Wasted, presented by West Yorkshire Playhouse, Bobby Tiwana and Tiger Strut is by Christopher Ash, (musical director on the 2016 Olivier Award Winning SHOWSTOPPERS! The Improvised Musical) and Carl Miller, developed in association with Mercury Musical Developments and Musical Theatre Network.

Wasted is an exclusive work-in-progress performance of an electrifying new musical about Yorkshire’s greatest (and strangest) artistic family – the Brontës. Anne, Branwell, Charlotte and Emily are nobodies from nowhere – but they have stuff to say. Wasted is the explosive crash and burn story of four young people with incredible dreams. This contemporary reclamation of the Brontës as visionary creators of shocking genius presents ‘The kids from Haworth’ as you’ve never seen them before.

Northern Ballet presents Wuthering Heights, choreographed by David Nixon OBE. Passionate and obsessive, Cathy and Heathcliff’s love is as unruly and dangerous as the Yorkshire moors that surround them. With an original score by celebrated composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, known for his West End and Broadway hits Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, Northern Ballet’s adaptation of Emily Brontë‘s romantic masterpiece brings this turbulent love story to life.

Rocket and West Yorkshire Playhouse present Know Your Place, an interactive collaborative digital arts project mapping the lives, locations and work of the Brontës 200 years ago. In 1837, the Poet Laureate, Robert Southey, tried to put Charlotte Brontë in her place, announcing “literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life, and it ought not to be.” Charlotte and her sisters defied him, becoming Yorkshire’s most famous literary family. Know Your Place will map the physical places in Yorkshire which influenced the worlds and the characters they created, alongside contemporary reflections on ‘place’ created by artists, audiences and members of the public around the world. Rocket is a BAFTA winning team based in Sheffield, using smart thinking, design and technology.

Haworth Audio Experience is a short audio journey challenging, reconfirming and playing with Haworth’s identity as a tourist attraction. The result is an immersive exploration of the reality of life in Haworth today in contrast to the romanticised image of the Brontës’ world projected upon the town. It can be experienced away from Haworth, headphones transporting the listener to the Yorkshire dales from wherever they are, as well as while visiting Haworth.

Jane Eyre Vs Villette Panel This event will complement our new production of Villette and will give audiences, who may not be so familiar with Charlotte Brontë’s fourth novel, additional context. Authors and academics will speak on behalf of both novels, with the debate given extra energy by an audience who can compare both classic works.

The Brontë Season will also feature a series of screenings, panel events and a social media takeover, to provoke lively debate and discussion about the Brontës and their continuing relevance for a contemporary audience. More information on the Brontë Season and guest speakers will be announced by West Yorkshire Playhouse nearer to the autumn.

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Major funders
Arts Council England Leeds City Council The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation
Principal Capital and Families Partner
Caddick Developments
Principal Capital and Access Partner
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors