Thursday, May 30

Furnace Festival celebrating new artists is back at Leeds Playhouse

Leeds Playhouse’s trailblazing Furnace Festival is back after a two-year break celebrating new work in a kaleidoscopic mix of performances, workshops, conversations and social events.

Furnace is the Playhouse’s development engine that generates new performance work supporting the local creative community. The week- long showcase events that are free or pay-what-you-can shares new work and offers space for artists to explore their practice.

Highlights of the Furnace Festival include:

Let’s Talk – Tuesday 9th November, 10.30am

A panel discussion with Disability Arts Online and Leeds Playhouse’s Associate Director Amy Leach discussing access and work by disabled artists within the theatre. This is a chance for people to ask questions and air their views in a safe and supportive atmosphere. Hosted by Paul Wilshaw, Ramps on the Moon Agent for Change at Leeds Playhouse and board member of Disability Arts.

Papatango – 9th–13th November, while Box Office is open (currently 10am–3pm)

Audio versions of the three winners of the 2021 Papatango Prize in partnership with Papatango and ETT that festival-goers will be able to enjoy on tablets provided by Box Office or on their own devices. By turns poignant, funny and captivating, the plays represent the very best of new writing. Selected from 1,410 entries, the winners are: Nkenna Akunna for Some Of Us Exist In The Future; Tajinder Singh Hayer for Ghost Stories From An Old Country; Tom Powell for The Silence and The Noise.

Pursuit of Perfection – 10th November, 7pm

A work-in-progress sharing of a new dance-theatre show by dancer Louisa Keohane and Director Jamie Fletcher. Through a mixture of contemporary dance, verbatim text, integrated creative BSL and storytelling, this dynamic and thought-provoking performance tells the true story of a dancer’s personal journey with anorexia. There will be a post-show discussion with the creative team, in which audience feedback and reactions will be used to develop the next stage of this exciting show.

Introduction to Design – 10th November, 4–6pm

A free hands-on workshop run by Leeds Playhouse’s Resident Designer Warda Abbasiand Associate Director Amy Leach, discussing what it means to be a designer and the designer-director relationship. Participants will also be given the opportunity to start creating their own costume or set design using simple art materials.

How to be a Better Human – 11th November, 7pm

This spoken word comedy, performed by Chris Singleton and directed by Tom Wright, is about grief, loss and self-acceptance. Chris reveals how he lost two of the biggest relationships in his life – his dad and his wife – in the space of a few months. It finds lightness and humour in death, loss and divorce, exploring how they help us to become more empathic, connected and understanding.

Developing Your Ensemble Practice – 11th November, 4–6pm

A workshop for artists across disciplines looking to develop their physical theatre practice and experience working in an ensemble. Director and practitioner Sameena Hussain will lead an inclusive movement-based session for actors, directors, dancers and other artists looking for space to reconnect with their body, find new ways to tell stories, and collaborate with other theatre-makers.

Scratch – 12th November, 7pm

An evening of raw and developing work in which the audience is invited to support local artists by providing feedback. Four local artists and companies will share up to twenty minutes of work in development before asking how the audience thinks the piece ought to progress. Previous Scratch sharings have gone on to tour the UK and be programmed across the country.

Meet the Writer – Tajinder Singh Hayer – 12th November, 1pm

Papatango Prize Winner Tajinder Singh Hayer talks about writing audio drama Ghost Stories from an Old Country, their journey as a writer, applying for the Papatango Prize, and the things they’ve learned about audio drama in the last year. There will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions about the writing process and about the play.

Freelancer Work Hub – 12th November, 10am–1pm

Freelance artists are encouraged to bring a laptop, grab a brew, pull up a pew and use the Playhouse’s Level 2 Mezzanine as an informal shared working space. It’s a great chance to get to know some of the theatre’s staff, as well as other local artists and theatre-makers.

Choreographic Research Lab – 13th November, 10.30am

A creative workshop facilitated by Choreographer Bakani Pick-Up, exploring how movement and composition work in real time through improvisation, and how dance and movement practice can be used to instigate and depict experience through physical expressions. This is an open level class suitable for all levels of dance experience (ages 18+).

Me, Myself and Misha – 13th November, 2pm

A heartfelt, autobiographical work presented by Terpsichoring Dance Company, devised and performed by award-winning dance artist Ana Silverio. The show explores the emotional journey one woman goes on to become a mother. Universal themes of pregnancy and labour are presented using a mix of physical theatre and dance, alongside an original and moving musical score.

Workshop with TheatreState and Young Artist Activists – 13th November, 4–6pm

Working with Writer and Director Tess Seddon (whose unlikely journey into politics in 2017 inspired new musical Say Yes to Tess), a group of creative young activists from Seacroft have been documenting their access-all-areas journey into UK politics – visiting Parliament, meeting MPs, interviewing high-profile politicians and galvanising their peers. This creative workshop explores their journey they are going on and the artistic process it is shaping.

Dream Reality Radio Live – 13th November, 7pm

A collaboration between Sol B River and Leeds Playhouse, Dream Reality Radio, directed by Dermot Daly, gives early career writers the chance to write, develop and showcase their first radio play. Eight West Yorkshire-based writers have worked with dramaturgs, psychotherapists, BBC producers and each other to create pieces that will be recreated live on stage as a radio play.

Furnace Festival at Leeds Playhouse from 8th – 13th November. Book online at or box office 0113 213 7700