Posted on 08 December 2016.
West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Spring/Summer season brings together the city’s urgent and intimate stories, creating collaborations with exciting and emerging creative talent from across the UK.
Staging fresh new work alongside celebrated classics, each production asks important questions about the current cultural landscape, as well as the identities and place of the audience in the city and the world.
The season opens with Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (4 – 25 Feb), a radical, new co-production by WYP, Headlong and Nuffield Southampton Theatres exploring one of the most celebrated comedies of the 20th century. Director Sam Pritchard scrutinises class identity and social mobility in a digital era
And asks how much our voices still define who we are.
Amy Leach’s Romeo and Juliet (3 – 25 March) captures the impact of raging intergenerational conflict and social unrest as an extraordinary first love ignites amid a vicious turf war on a present day Northern estate.
Barber Studio Programme (30 March –15 April) is small in scale but big in ambition and includes award-winning shows by leading northern artists and brand new theatre, developed at the Playhouse.
Transform (19 – 22 April) festival is back and bolder than ever with extraordinary shows and ideas by adventurous artists investigating what the future holds and reinventing it.
The Graduate (28 April – 27 May) is a co-production by The Playhouse and Curve Leicester. An illicit encounter with an infamous older woman sets the three main characters on a thrillingly destructive course in Lucy Bailey’s moving and hilarious coming-of-age production.
Lifeboat (2 – 13 May) directed by Gill Robertson is the gripping story or two young evacuees left clinging to an upturned lifeboat. Catherine Wheels Theatre Company will tour the production to community settings across Leeds.
Grapes of Wrath (24 May – 10 June), based on John Steinbeck’s classic novel, captures an American family in a moment of crisis as their farm crops turn to dust before their eyes. And they set off to California in the hope of survival and prosperity.
Ode to Leeds (10 June – 1 July) celebrates the journey to New York City of five young poets from Leeds to compete in the world’s most prestigious poetry slam. But personal pressures and bitter in-fighting threaten to pull the team apart. James Brining directs this poignant portrayal of Leeds by Zodwa Nyoni.
Directed by Bijan Sheibani, Inua Ellams’ new play Barber Shop Chronicles (12 – 29 July) invites audiences into barber shops across Africa and the UK in a humorous and insightful portrayal of a unique environment where black men come to be together.
“This season is an artistic reflection and response to the narratives, debates and events that are shaping this City, our nation and the world”, said James Brining, Artistic director. “We’re exploring moments of discovery of identity, place and voice; moments as proudly distinctive and diverse in their telling as our audiences.
“West Yorkshire Playhouse is championing visionary female directors such as Amy Leach, Abbey Wright and Lucy Bailey, we’re co-creating with leading national companies including Headlong and the National Theatre, and most importantly we’re creating a platform for stories from our own streets.
“We have stories of self-expression and hope, disempowerment and overcoming. The art that we make happens for and with the people of Leeds – through poetry writing workshops for schools, with the involvement of young people in Romeo and Juliet and by performing our work in community venues around the city.
In celebration of Phoenix Dance Theatre’s 35th anniversary Triple Bill 2017 (9th Feb) brings together three performances spanning Jazz, Soul, and Reggae from the dance halls of 1940s America to contemporary choreography exploring conceptual themes.
Babe the Sheep Pig (28 Feb – 4 March) is a heart-warming tale of friendship and adventure about a loveable pig with a talent for herding sheep. Adapted by Olivier Award winner David Wood (Goodnight Mister Tom, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG) the show is brimming with laughter, stunning puppetry and original music.
Northern Broadsides transport us to 17th century Paris for Cyrano de Bergerac (28 Feb – 4 March.) A brilliant poet and swordsman, Cyrano’s is prevented from confessing his adoration for his beloved Roxanne because of his enormous nose! Northern Broadsides’ exuberant performance style presents this swashbuckling tale of unrequited love in partnership with New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-Under-Lyme.
Learning-disability theatre company Mind the Gap presents Contained: True Stories From The Heart (10 – 11 March). Directed by Alan Lyddiard, this deeply personal production weaves together nine true stories through performance, film, photography, music and dance.
Inspired by 30 interviews with returned servicemen, Pink Mist (28 Mar – 1 April), a Bristol Old Vic’s production, is the story of three young men deployed to Afghanistan. It pairs haunting verse with dynamic movement to explore the greatest battle of all – their journey home.
Kay Mellor’s romantic comedy A Passionate Woman is an Everyman Theatre production centred around one woman torn between three men. Retreating to her attic on her son’s wedding day, she contemplates the husband she never loved and the man with whom she shared an unforgettable affair.
David Walliams’ explosive space adventure, First Hippo on the Moon (5 –8 April) is presented by Les Petits Theatre Company.
Running Wild, Samuel Adamson’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s celebrated novel (11 – 15 April), is a spectacular production with puppetry by the team behind War Horse. It tells of one little girl’s unforgettable elephant ride in tsunami-hit Indonesia.
A new musical adaptation of Frederico Fellini’s Oscar-winning La Strada (24 – 29 April) is an impassioned tale of love and loss set in post-WW2 Italy. The innocent Gelsomina finds herself torn between a travelling street performer and a daredevil tight-rope walker, in Sally Cookson’s production, which boasts a beautiful new score by Benjy Bower.
Based on one of the greatest Rock Operas, The Who’s Tommy (4 – 13 May) is the award winning musical written by Pete Townshend. A cast of 22 recreates the story that turned The Who into one of the biggest bands. ‘Tommy’ is part of the Playhouse’s role as partner in ‘Ramps on the Moon’, which aims to put more people who are deaf and disabled on stage, in audiences and in the work place.
Scamp Theatre’s adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s book The Scarecrows’ Wedding (30 May – 3 June) comes direct from the West End. This joyful production is bursting at the seams with wit, music, and all the animals from the farm.
Miss Meena & The Masala Queens (13 – 17 June). The once famous drag queen Miss Meena has lost his sparkle. A new arrival brings a glittery rainbow of hope – but just as things are starting to look up, a visitor from the past makes Miss Meena question everything he ever stood for.
The Gruffalo (25 – 30 July) is Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the award winning picture book. Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood for songs, laughs and scary fun for little ones.