Thursday, February 29

Leeds Playhouse is back with a new season and free ticket offer for NHS workers

Working with COVID-19 safety guidelines Leeds Playhouse have launched their Autumn/Winter season and are giving away 1000 free tickets to NHS workers for the revival of their critically acclaimed seasonal show A Christmas Carol.

This time round playwright Deborah McAndrew’s adaptation of the Dickens festive classic is upgraded to the flagship Quarry Theatre after recreating a warts and all Victorian England during their 2028 Pop-Up Season in 2018. Once again directed by Playhouse Associate Director Amy Leach it runs from 3rd December – 9th January and it will sell out.

Another returning work is poet and playwright Zodwa Nyoni’s Nine Lives which debuted at the theatre in 2014.  Presented by Leeds Studio this timely and intimate single hander combines humour and humanity in a deeply personal account of what is like to be a migrant, and is performed by Lladel Bryant, known to Playhouse audiences as part of the Pop-Up Season ensemble. Nine Lives is directed by Co-Artistic Director of Bradford-based Freedom Studios Alex Chisholm, and runs in the Courtyard Theatre from 5th – 6th November.

Following on from their co-production with the Playhouse Connecting Voices in October, Opera North will present a new double-bill  combining Handel’s pastoral opera Acis and Galatea, and Brecht, and Weill’s acerbic ‘sung ballet’  Seven Deadly Sins also in the Quarry Theatre from 11th – 21st November.

Leeds-based Wrongsemble are back with a new family-friendly musical, The Not So Ugly Sister as they offer an alternative story of Cinderella’s infamous step-family. This two-hander running from 18th – 21st November is written and directed by Elvi Piper, with an all-female northern cast and with original score. The production was scheduled to go on a community tour earlier this year, in co-production with the Playhouse and Red Ladder Theatre Company, but was brought to a halt when the country was locked down on the first day of rehearsals. 

Red Ladder make their return this November with new playwright Nana-Kofi Kufuor’s debut play My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored in the Courtyard from 26th – 28th November.  It’s the story of a young, black teacher witnessing her disruptive student being violently accosted by the police who seething with anger that she failed to answer his plea for help takes drastic action the next day to confront her.

To ensure audience safety after a successful trial event the Playhouse have introduced a range of safety measures including: socially-distanced seating, e-tickets, deep cleaning, staggered entry times to reduce queues, temperature checks, a face covering policy, and sanitising stations throughout the building, which benefits from newly redeveloped large and airy foyers, and a newly installed state of the art ventilation system.

“We feel an overwhelming drive to reopen the Playhouse so that we can share our stages and resources and work collaboratively with local companies and artists, providing a sense of hope and offering entertainment at a time when we need it the most.,” says Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining.

“Building on our vital role within the economic life of the city, we’re offering commissions and employment to freelancers as well as contributing to the local economy. This season is not going to be without challenges but the passion and resilience of our audiences, artists, and supporters is as strong as ever.

“With this in mind, we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary with a new exhibition online and in the Playhouse. This is our gift to the city; an opportunity to look back at what has made – and continues to make – this theatre so special.”

There are a number of community-led projects running alongside the new season including All Together Now, offered as a fun project for 5 – 8 year olds to stimulate imagination through creative play. The free project is supported by Child Friendly Leeds with the Playhouse’s alternative education provision running in partnership with Leeds City College returns, alongside a range of further in-person projects for Leeds residents to take part in safely and creatively

 Riptide Theatre Company return with Project Intimacy which is a two-week long pervasive experience to combat isolation and connect people from across the globe. This unique digital experience pairs participants through instructions received via text messages to form a remote pairing. Riptide have made several places available to Leeds Playhouse Heydays members in a bid to promote connection and tackle isolation amongst older people

Continuing the Playhouse’s long standing commitment to working with its communities and taking theatre to locations right across the city  the Playhouse has commissioned Robert Alan Evans to create a new family-friendly production which will be performed on the back of a truck driving through the neighbourhoods of Leeds.