Tag Archive | "West Yorkshire Playhouse"

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 wyp.org.uk

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The Playhouse and Curve Theatre Present ‘The Graduate’

‘The Graduate’, adapted by Terry Johnson and based on the novel by Charles Webb, is currently at West Yorkshire Playhouse and running until Saturday 27th May, and I urge you to go and see it.

Directed by Lucy Bailey, it is a co-production by West Yorkshire Playhouse and Leicester’s Curve Theatre and captures 1960’s comfortable, suburban California so well. Benjamin has just graduated. He finds himself disillusioned by the world of his parents and is easily, if awkwardly and guiltily, seduced by their neighbour, Mrs Robinson, played to perfection by Catherine McCormack. She is a bored alcoholic, trapped in a loveless marriage and she delightedly plunges him into a world of sensual hedonistic pleasure which sets them both on a thrillingly destructive course.  Of course, Mrs Robinson has a lovely daughter and when Benjamin actually falls for her the gloves are off!

“The Graduate is a satire on the values and lifestyle of middle class suburban America”, said Lucy Bailey. “The world seen through Benjamin’s eyes is a heightened surreal version of reality, at times grotesques and absurd. It’s a coming of age play – painfully funny and deeply human.”

Catherine McCormack, best known for her roles in the ‘Braveheart’ with Mel Gibson, and ‘Spy Game’ with Brad Pitt, plays Mrs Robinson and is a joy to watch. In fact the entire cast is brilliant, though one criticism I heard was that perhaps Benjamin, played by Jack Monaghan, was a little overplayed, but I didn’t find that. Yes, he made you feel a little uncomfortable but he was meant to as he wrestled with his conscience, tried to avoid his parents questions, took Elaine (the daughter) on an excruciatingly awful date to a strip club (cue twirling nipple tassels!), found himself falling in love and having to explain that to Mrs Robinson….her husband….his parents….Elaine!

Very funny, sad and quite insightful. Don’t miss it!


Photos: Manuel Harlan

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CONTAINED at WYP: Rethinking Disability


Mind the Gap's production of Container at the Mind the Gap Studios at Lister's Mill in Bradford.


Mind the Gap, England’s largest learning disability theatre company, begins the tour of new show CONTAINED at West Yorkshire Playhouse Friday 10 – Saturday 11 March.

Starring nine learning-disabled performers, including Liam Bairstow (Coronation Street, ITV) and Jez Colborne (Irresistible, London 2012 Olympic Games), who’s original score and lyrics feature in the show, CONTAINED presents nine interwoven true stories about family and friendships, love and loss, the everyday and the extraordinary.

Liam Bairstow in CONTAINED. Photo by Tim Smith

Combining live performance, film, photography, music and dance, CONTAINED explores those small moments in life that suddenly become meaningful: moments that teach us about ourselves and the world that we live in.


Mind the Gap's production of Container at the Mind the Gap Studios at Lister's Mill in Bradford.

Directed by Alan Lyddiard (Anniversary, West Yorkshire Playhouse 2016) in collaboration with award winning photographer Denis Darzacq and Mind the Gap, this gritty, honest and thought-provoking show reflects the lives of people with learning disabilities in today’s society.

A series of free events for anyone who has purchased a ticket to CONTAINED will run alongside the show, including workshops, discussion events and an exhibition.

Box office 0113 213 7700   Book online www.wyp.org.uk




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Babe, The Sheep Pig Visits Temple Newsam


Babe, The Sheep Pig had his first taste of Yorkshire farm-life in preparation for a visit to West Yorkshire Playhouse.


Visiting Temple Newsham’s Home Farm, the plucky piglet with a talent for herding sheep put his skills into practice, rounding up the farm’s rare-breed flock and putting them safely away in their pens.


The loveable Babe then went on to rub noses with one of Home Farm’s Middle White piglets, getting well acquainted with his real-life counterparts in preparation for opening night.


Adapted from Dick King Smith’s 1983 novel which inspired the 1995 Oscar-winning film, Babe, the little pig with big dreams, features amazing puppets designed by Max Humphries (Chief Puppet Designer, Cirque de Soleil) and Dik Downey, with puppetry direction by Matthew Forbes (Associate Director in Puppetry & Movement, War Horse). Babe’s heart-warming tale of friendship, adventure and bravery is the perfect half-term treat.


Wed 15 – Sat 18 Feb

Quarry Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse

Suitable for all ages.

Box office 0113 213 7700   Book online www.wyp.org.uk  

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Calling All Poets, Beatboxers, Spoken Word Artists and Performers: Open Auditions at WYP

WYP Auditions


West Yorkshire Playhouse is holding open auditions to meet poets, spoken word artists, performers, beatboxers and other exciting young artists from West Yorkshire, to act in its new production of Zodwa Nyoni’s Ode to Leeds.

Directed by the theatre’s Artistic Director James Brining, Ode to Leeds tells the story of five young poets from Leeds selected to compete at the world’s most prestigious international poetry slam competition in New York City. Fuelled by love, pride and passionate protest their words light fires to show the world who they are and what they can be.

West Yorkshire Playhouse is keen to hear from people from all backgrounds and levels of experience; both from those with acting experience and those without. Whether you’re taking part in open mic nights, competing in hip hop battles, busking on corners or just writing poetry in your bedroom, we want to hear from you.


Saturday 4 February: 10am – 6pm, West Yorkshire Playhouse

Monday 6 February: 6pm – 9pm, West Yorkshire Playhouse

To find out more about the characters and request an application form please email auditions@wyp.org.uk or visit wyp.org.uk.

This opportunity is open to those aged 16+ who are no longer in full time education. The Playhouse is looking to cast characters between 14 and 18 years old; those auditioning need to look like they could be in that age bracket. Rehearsals will take place at the Playhouse between the 8 May and 10 June, with performances between 10 June and the 1 July 2017. All rehearsals and performances will take place at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

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Phoenix Dance Revives Nightlife at the Flamingo at WYP


Nightlife at the Flamingo. Photography by Brian Slater (1)

Phoenix Dance Theatre will open their Spring 2017 tour with a four-night run at West Yorkshire Playhouse. The thrilling programme which marks the end of the company’s 35th year anniversary celebrations features a new commission and a revival of one of the company’s earliest and most iconic works; Nightlife at the Flamingo.

Choreographed by Edward Lynch, who also danced in the original production, Nightlife at the Flamingo premiered in Leeds in 1983, under the Company’s first Artistic Director David Hamilton.

Originally set in an American nightclub, Nightlife at the Flamingo integrated popular culture and modern dance and was performed by five dancers. For this revived anniversary performance it has been re-imagined by Edward Lynch for an intergenerational cast which features ex-Phoenix dancers and current company dancers along with the company’s Youth Academy. Fusing Jazz, Soul and Lindy Hop this dazzling piece captures the atmosphere of a 1940’s American Dance Hall.

Nightlife at the Flamingo. Photography by Brian Slater

Alongside Nightlife at the Flamingo Phoenix present the premier of Calyx the company’s very first internal commission under the directorship of Sharon Watson. Calyx is choreographed by Company Dancer Sandrine Monin who was awarded the commission following the company’s inaugural Choreographers and Composers Lab in 2015. Sandrine’s appointment comes at a time when female choreographers are in the minority, often expressing difficulties in developing their careers as choreographers. Calyx is inspired by and based on the book of poems ‘The Flowers of Evil’ by Charles Baudelaire. The work explores the themes of beauty, desire and decadence.

Beast. Photography by Brian Slater (1)

To complete the programme the company present Beast by Leeds based choreographer and ex company dancer Douglas Thorpe. Beast immerses the audience into the darkest reaches of the mind, using six dancers in a performance that is as powerful and brutal as it is beautiful. Exploring the darker side of the human psyche, Beast’s broken choreography requires extreme strength and articulation, giving the piece an often disjointed and fragmented look. Intimidating and uncompromising, this challenging piece is an unforgettable, captivating piece of theatre.

Beast. Photography by Brian Slater


“In 1989 I was one of the first female dancers to join the Company and it is a privilege to lead the Company in these challenging but artistically vibrant times.” said Sharon Watson. “Recommissioning NightLife at the Flamingo is a nod to the company spirit, and affirms the Phoenix Dance Theatre’s deserved place as prominent agents for change in the arts. It is right that we recognise just how revolutionary the Phoenix phenomenon is and the ground-breaking work the Company’s early members achieved. The commissioning of a new piece by a current Company Dancer is a continuation of this spirit. Many female choreographers have expressed difficulties and frustration as they find it more and more challenging to secure any form of investment to support their careers as choreographers. This is a significant commission, sending a clear message to the dance world that Phoenix is committed to driving diversity in the sector”.

Book online www.wyp.org.uk

Box office 0113 213 7700

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Pygmalion at WYP



‘The science of speech. That’s my profession. I can place any man within six miles. I can place him within two miles in London. Sometimes within two streets.’

How far do accents define us? Is status still dictated by our mother tongue?

Sam Pritchard directs a radical new staging of Bernard Shaw’s acute comedy Pygmalion, a hilarious and poignant tale of two opposites, Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, trying to find a common language.

Shaw’s celebrated play was first staged over 100 years ago and is recognised as one of the most enduring and perceptive of comedies. In this audacious new staging, Sam Pritchard playfully carves a contemporary world on stage using sound and video technology which examines class identity and questions how far accents and speech can define us in Britain today.

Pygmalion is a co-production between West Yorkshire Playhouse, Headlong and Nuffield Southampton Theatres. This is the third year that West Yorkshire Playhouse has partnered with Headlong, following their acclaimed co-productions of Spring Awakening in 2014 and The Glass Menagerie in 2015.

West Yorkshire Playhouse, Courtyard Theatre

Saturday 4 – Saturday 25 February 



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Strictly Ballroom – Another Superb Hit for West Yorkshire Playhouse

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

The totally fabulous ‘Strictly Ballroom The Musical’ is at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until Saturday 21st January and, if you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you get a ticket! The show is so funny, colourful, and with great music and dancing. Everyone left smiling from ear to ear after a prolonged standing ovation.

This is the first time that Baz Luhrmann’s musical (which followed on from his play and worldwide best selling film), has been performed outside Australia. A co-production by Global Creatures – the team behind Walking With Dinosaurs, How To Train Your Dragon, and King Kong – and West Yorkshire Playhouse, Strictly Ballroom is captivating for all ages.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production


The show is all about finding the right partner in life. It is the inspiring story of star-crossed lovers from different ethnicities, one a championship ballroom dancer who defies all the rules to follow his heart. It features numbers such as ‘Love is in the Air’, ‘Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps’ and ‘Time After Time’, as well as several new songs by internationally acclaimed artists including Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

Like millions of dancers across the world, director and choreographer Drew McOnie was inspired by the movie as a young dancer – and recently his dazzling choreography for ‘In The Heights’ earned him the 2016 Olivier Award.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

“I am incredibly excited about the dynamic and diverse company we have put together to create Strictly Ballroom”, said Drew. “It literally comes from all over the world. There was no compromising on casting, and it was very difficult as there had to be a level of authenticity.”

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

The role of Fran is played by Gemma Sutton, who starred in ‘Gypsy’ and ‘The Go-Between’ in the West End. Sam Lips, as Scott, recently starred on Broadway and is making his UK debut. And, two familiar faces from The Playhouse’s 2015 hit musical ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ are Tamsin Carroll and Stephen Matthews who will play Shirley and Doug, Scott’s parents, the ambitious mother who runs the local dance school and her henpecked husband whose past achievements are finally revealed.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

Fran’s father and grandmother are of Spanish origin – a great opportunity to introduce a little flamenco from Fernando Mira, Australia’s foremost flamenco dancer. One of the most touching scenes is with Fran and her grandmother, played by Eve Polycarpou, when they sing ‘Love is a Leap of Faith’.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

Julius D’Silva’s Barry Fife, with his particularly mobile hair-piece, was quite hilarious; Richard Grieve as co-owner of the dance school, was excellent; and Charlotte Gooch as Tina Sparkle….sparkled! The whole cast was superb and the show delighted everyone in the audience.

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

“I want people to walk away knowing that they have seen a brilliant story, not solely a dance show”, said Drew. “I would like people to feel inspired and leave with a revised sense of ambition.”

'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

I think they certainly did that! Don’t miss this chance to see another great show at The Playhouse. It’s touching, very funny, and you just won’t want it to end!


'Strictly Ballroom' Touring Production

“We’re thrilled to have such talented and experienced performers at the Playhouse”, said James Brining, Artistic Director, West Yorkshire Playhouse. “We pride ourselves on producing exceptional musical theatre and we are building a reputation for showcasing world-class musicals here in Leeds. Strictly Ballroom follows on from the huge success of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which is still touring nationally.”



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The Playhouse Presents Another Packed Programme for Spring/Summer 2017


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


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.


James Brining


“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.

Visiting productions

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.



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The Boys in the Band at WYP


Mart Crowley’s ground breaking play, The Boys in the Band, comes to West Yorkshire Playhouse from 14th – 19th November, starring Olivier Award winner and Sherlock star Mark Gatiss alongside Ian Hallard in this eagerly anticipated production.



There’s a party about to commence when nine men gather in a New York apartment for a birthday celebration. Harold, a self-confessed ‘Jew fairy’, receives a surprise birthday gift – a beautiful male hustler dubbed Cowboy. Meanwhile, party host Michael gets an unwanted surprise of his own in the shape of a figure from his past. As the booze is drunk and the dope smoked, the mood swings from hilarity to heartbreak.



From the producers of the critically acclaimed revivals of Beautiful Thing, Our Boys and Another Country, and the forthcoming stage adaptation of Brokeback Mountain, comes this eagerly anticipated revival of Mart Crowley’s seminal piece, which premiered in 1968 just before the Stonewall riots. This witty, dark American play, which changed the landscape of gay theatre, was adapted into a film in 1970, becoming a cult hit. The play was last revived in New York in 2010, and this UK revival marks almost 20 years since the last West End production.

There will be a post show discussion on Tuesday 15th November.

Box office 0113 213 7700   Book online www.wyp.org.uk

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