Archive | Theatre

Open Air Theatre Company Heartbreak Productions Returns to Roundhay Park

Heartbreak Productions return to Roundhay Park this summer with a ten-day festival of open air theatre throughout August. Shows include the all-time classic family favourite The Secret Garden, and an original murder-mystery spoof, Murder on the Terrace. Renowned for their unique style, Heartbreak Productions tour each production with a small but multi-talented cast of actors drawn from across the country. They are joined this year by a talented team of directors too, including award-winning Dominic Waldron, Paul Chesterton, Kristoffer Huball and Adam Morley.


The Secret Garden: Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 August Adapted from the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this classic promises entertainment for all the family.

Murder on the Terrace: Fri 11 – Sun 13 August Original murder mystery described as “… part Downton, part Agatha Christie. Lots of innuendo and stacks of fun”

 Northanger Abbey: Sat 19 – Sun 20 August A newly-commissioned adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic by Dani Carbery.

The Taming of the Shrew: Fri 25 – Sun 22 August. Heartbreak  stamp their imitable style on this Shakespeare classic about a controversial yet tender tale of love.

Further details about these can be found on their website –

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Yorkshire’s Learning Disability Theatre Company, Mind the Gap, Heads to Edinburgh Fringe


For artists and performers all over the world, the countdown is on to the opening of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – the world’s largest arts festival that welcomes thousands of performances every summer – and for Bradford-based Mind the Gap, England’s largest learning disability theatre company, it is a particularly exciting time.

“The last time Mind the Gap took a production to The Fringe was 12 years ago,” says Joyce Nga Yu Lee, the creator and director of Mia which opens on August 10th at Edinburgh’s Summerhall. “I am thrilled that the piece we have all worked so hard on is to reach a larger and international audience.”

Performed by four learning disabled artists Mia explores the truths and myths about learning disability and parenthood in today’s society; it is a piece about humanity that aims to resonate with everybody with or without a disability.

I want to see an audience that isn’t made up of just people with a vested interest in those with learning disabilities,” says cast member JoAnne Haines. “I want to see people in the audience that might never have considered this issue.”

We have six performances a week,” says fellow cast member Alison Short. “It will be quite gruelling, not just because of the energy used in performing but also we have to get the show on and off the stage in just 15 minutes to make way for others. We’ll be doing all this and promoting ourselves with the festival; I’m both excited and nervous!

Mia originally toured studio venues around the UK in autumn last year receiving outstanding reviews but it has since been updated and has changed considerably in places.

“We use music, dance, live film, pre-recorded film and symbols to create an episodic piece of theatre,” concludes Joyce. “It is fast moving and raw, funny and bold – in short Mia is wild ride!

Mind the Gap present Mia at Edinburgh’s Summerhall Old Lab

from Tuesday 8th to Sunday 27th August

Performances are at 2.45pm from Tuesday to Sunday inclusive

Tickets are available from

Mia will tour in autumn 2017 and spring 2018 with performances confirmed at Hull Truck Theatre, Hull, The Gulbenkian, Canterbury, and Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax

For more information on Mind the Gap visit


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Charlotte Brontë’s Classic Jane Eyre at The Grand


 Sally Cookson’s energetic and imaginative new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece, Jane Eyre, is on at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 31st July for one week only.

 In the year that marks the 170th anniversary of the novel’s first publication, this highly acclaimed production features Nadia Clifford as Jane Eyre and Tim Delap as Rochester.

Telling the story of one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment, Charlotte Brontë’s story of the trailblazing Jane is as inspiring as ever. From her beginnings as a destitute orphan, Jane Eyre’s spirited heroine faces life’s obstacles head-on, surviving poverty, injustice and the discovery of bitter betrayal before taking the ultimate decision to follow her heart.

“Adapting a novel for the stage is a challenging prospect – especially when that novel is cited as many people’s favourite of all time,” said Director Sally Cookson. “It is always daunting when you’re working on a story which everyone knows so well because you want to surprise and maybe challenge people’s expectations without losing any of the things which make them like the story in the first place.

“I didn’t actually read the novel until I was in my early twenties and I remember thinking while I read it: ‘this is a clarion cry for equal opportunities for women, not a story about a passive female who will do anything for her hunky boss.’ I was struck by how modern Jane seemed – her spirit and strong will, her peculiar and brilliant mind striving for personal freedom to be who she is, lashing out against any constraint that prevents her from being herself. She was exactly the sort of person I wanted to be.”


Jane Eyre is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Monday 31st July to Saturday 5th August 2017

 Tickets are priced from £17.50 (restricted viewing) to £35

Book online at or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700

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‘Twelfth Night’ Transported to Rural Setting in Adel


Front Room Productions transport Shakespeare’s best-loved comedy ‘Twelfth Night’ to Dunstarn Farm, a new open air arts venue in Adel from 24th – 27th  August .

This abridged and approachable version of Twelfth Night is set to please both Shakespearean purists and newcomers. The promenade production takes Shakespeare’s original text and places it into a fun farmyard setting, using modern dress and featuring original musical arrangements of familiar pop hits.

Taking inspiration from its location, the show leads audiences around its rural setting. Viola and Sebastian are framed as city-slicker siblings, Orsino as a local farming tycoon, Olivia an ill-suited country girl, and Sir Andrew Auguecheek a try-hard hipster. One of the first performances to be staged at Dunstarn Farm, the show unearths the modern day idiosyncrasies in Shakespeare’s language, creating a contemporary yet faithful production intended to make the Bard’s brilliance accessible to modern-day audiences.


Dunstarn Farm, Dunstarn Lane, Adel, LS16 8EL

Dates: 24th-27th August

Performances: 7pm (24th-27th), 2:30pm (26th & 27th)

Running time: 1h30

Ticket prices: Standard £12 / Concessions £10

Book online:

Facebook event:

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The Hottest New Theatre Work with Furnace Festival at WYP


Furnace (11-23 Sept) is West Yorkshire Playhouse’s festival of locally created, small scale studio work which supports and develops writers, directors and actors born, raised or living in Yorkshire.

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.

A scratch night, skills workshops, conversations and events will also be held as part of the festival.

Festival 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.


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Are You Easily Embarrassed?


What People Think is a witty and revealing original production by the Carriageworks Young Theatre Makers (CYTM) at the Carriageworks on Sat 29 July.

A team of researchers have come up with a hypothesis: people who feel embarrassment less keenly are more successful in life. They set out to prove their hypothesis through presenting the contrasting experiences of siblings; one who feels embarrassment easily and one who is never embarrassed. Created a talented ensemble of  young theatre makers What People Think is a light-hearted original show touching on themes of social awkwardness, growing up and success in a post-truth world.

Led by professional theatre director, Ruth Cooper, the group is formed of young people aged between 10 and 19 who meet weekly to create new and original theatre.  CYTM develops young people’s confidence and skills as performers, writers and directors. In creating a new piece of theatre the CYTM work as an ensemble, developing team-work and increasing their vocabulary of contemporary performance styles and techniques. The young people form a supportive group in which their creativity is nurtured and they are offered a genuine platform for their ideas.

What People Think is at Carriageworks Theatre on Sat 29 July at 2pm & 7.30pm. 

Tickets cost £6 (Adults £8) and are available from 0113 376 0318, online through the website at or in person at the City Centre Box Office, Leeds Town Hall.

Carriageworks Young Theatre Makers are looking for new members to join from September!

Informal auditions and introductory workshop will be held on Tuesday 18th July 6pm-7.30pm at the Carriageworks Theatre. If you’d like to get involved please call 07891 272410 or email

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Take a Journey with Me Through My Letters


An exhibition and performance at HEART, Headingley on 23rd/24th June celebrates written correspondence and personal connection.

Handwritten letters and shared passions bring young and old together, as exciting, new adventures beckon and unlikely friendships flourish. But will the stress of exams, fractured ankles and grieving for lost friends ruin their plans? Or will the sharing of life through letter writing bring them all together in the end?

The play ‘Spring Flowers and Autumn Fruit’ was inspired by letters exchanged between University of Leeds students and older, Yorkshire residents as part of the University’s ‘Writing Back’ programme, and is performed by younger and older people living in Leeds.

The performances coincide with the launch of an exhibition of letters, photographs, illustrations and poems sent during, and inspired by, Writing Back, and all proceeds will go to Fall into Place Theatre and Writing Back. Both projects foster new friendships and tackle social isolation through connecting differing generations.

Performances are at HEART, Bennett Road, Headingley on Friday 23rd June – doors open to view exhibition 6pm; introduction 6:30pm; performance 7pm. And on Saturday 24th June – doors open to view exhibition 2pm; introduction 2.15pm; performance 2.30pm.

This is a relaxed performance, all very welcome. Tickets (£7/£5) are available from HEART on 0113 275 4548 or


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Shore to Shore at Oriental City


A play about Chinese people from Leeds, and staged at the Oriental City Restaurant on Cross Stamford Street, in Leeds was intriguing – a little drama accompanied by some tasty food.

Writers Mary Cooper and MW Sun had listened to and recorded the voices of dozens of Chinese people in Leeds. From these they wove together this wonderful, poignant play, bringing their stories and experiences to life. It was all the more touching because their experiences are echoed today. Here in our comfortable little bubbles we choose to ignore the fact that around the world people are dealing with similar experiences – being forced to flee because of war, famine, a better life…. just trying to survive.

Cheung Wing let go of his mother’s hand when they were fleeing the Japanese and subsequently was sold as a labourer in rural China. Years later he’s found by his uncle and reunited with his mother, then makes his way to Leeds to work in a restaurant.

Mei Lan’s parents run a takeaway and as children she and her brother worked long hours peeling potatoes and helping to run the business. When the business fails they join their father at another takeaway in the Dales – the only ‘Chinks’ in the village.

YiDi, born during the one-child policy in China and whose father had wanted a son, spends her life trying to gain his approval but, despite excelling academically, it’s never good enough. To escape she applies to do further study in Leeds where she discovers she has to add Yorkshire to her fluent English!

Presented by seven wonderful actors, these lives intertwine, back and forth. Each one a tale of love, loss, struggle and survival. All now happily living in Leeds surrounded by friends and family, none has forgotten their grueling journeys to get here – the hunger, the bullying, the lack of love, and the relentlessly hard work.

‘Shore to Shore’ at Oriental City started with a warming bowl of seaweed and tofu soup and soup made regular appearances throughout the play – first made with just roots and stems, then with vegetables, and finally with chicken! When the play finished we dived into more delicious dishes and somehow felt a new appreciation for this cuisine that so many of the Leeds Chinese community had contributed to.

‘Shore to Shore’ was presented by On The Wire in partnership with the Business Confucius Institute at the University of Leeds and Oriental City Restaurant. It is currently on tour and will play in Manchester, Oxford, London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and finishing at The Spurriergate Centre, York, on 9th/10th June.

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Community Chorus Rehearses Grapes of Wrath at WYP

A 40 strong community chorus is in rehearsals for the stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic The Grapes of Wrath, at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 24th May.

Involving performers from across Yorkshire, the community ensemble pays homage to the play’s themes of community and migration, representing and reflecting the local community.

Recruited through open auditions held in March, some of the company are also involved in Playhouse activity such as the Theatre of Sanctuary refugee programme, the Youth Theatre and First Floor programmes for young people.

Following the run the community ensemble participants will have the chance to create a brand new piece of work piece with a professional writer and director, which will be performed as part of Open Season, West Yorkshire Playhouse’s annual festival of community performance.

“We are delighted to have found a group of 40 fantastic individuals to take part in this show, not to mention the six young people from our Youth Theatre”, said Alex Ferris, WYP’s Director of Creative Engagement. “This story is so pertinent  – it’s been fascinating to hear everyone’s take on the themes in rehearsals and how much they’ve taken the story to heart.”

Critiquing America’s Great Depression and brought into a contemporary light with a live band playing throughout, Steinbeck’s legendary The Grapes of Wrath is given a modern twist by director Abbey Wright.

The Grapes of Wrath, Quarry Theatre

Wed 24 May – Sat 10 June,

Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online

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Heartbreak Productions Come to Roundhay Park


Heartbreak Productions return to Leeds this summer with five open air shows in Roundhay Park.

Starting with a new adaptation of David Walliams’ ‘Billionaire Boy’ from 2nd – 4th June, in August they return with a quirky interpretation of ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen, and a unique perspective on Shakespeare’s unconventional love story ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Completing the line-up are the family favourite ‘The Secret Garden’, and their original murder-mystery spoof, ‘Murder on the Terrace’.

Heartbreak Productions are renowned for their unique style and tour each production with a small but multi-talented cast of actors  drawn from across the country.

Heartbreak has been touring shows for over 25 years but this is the first time they’ve taken so many productions out at one time.  “It’s a really exciting but hectic time for us”, said Executive Director Maddy Kerr. “Doing such a mix of shows ensures that there’s something for everyone, so audiences of all ages and tastes can get involved and experience outdoor theatre – and obviously it makes it very special for us that we’re able to perform somewhere as beautiful as Roundhay Park.”

For more details check

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