Tuesday, July 5

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and Maxine Peake pen monologues for new season at Leeds Playhouse

Yorkshire’s Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and Maxine Peake have written brand new monologues as part of Leeds Playhouse’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The Playhouse will be welcoming audiences back next month for the first time since November with monologues written by six writers offering their own perspectives on Leeds and the north playing in the Courtyard Theatre as Decades: Stories from the city.

Leanna Benjamin, Kamal Kaan, Alice Nutter, Stan Owens, Peake and Armitage have each taken a particular decade from across the Playhouse’s lifespan covering the 1970s to today offering a diverse collection of stories firmly rooted in the North.

Leeds Playhouse’s Artistic Director James Brining, Associate Director Amy Leach and RTYDS Resident Assistant Director Sameena Hussain will be joined by Evie Manning of Common Wealth Theatre, Theatre State’s Tess Seddon and Theatre Director Amanda Huxtable to direct the monologues.

Another new commission for the reopening is family show Fairy Poppins and the Naughty Winter Ghost by Robert Alan Evans. Families will be able to enjoy this magical adventure in their own neighbourhood as a trio of rambunctious players transport them to the deep dark woods to meet an 800-year-old forgotten fairy.

The fairy and her crew open in Playhouse Square before embarking on a community tour throughout Leeds bringing live theatre into neighbourhoods and non-traditional venues on the back of a truck.

Away from the stage independent curator Courtney Spencer has created 50 Years of the Playhouse putting the spotlight on the theatre’s history. Highlights include its pioneering, industry-leading work, including becoming the first ever Theatre of Sanctuary for Refugees and People Seeking Asylum, and creating trailblazing Dementia Friendly productions now being adopted all over the world.

The exhibition will also look back at 50 years of memorable and ground-breaking productions that have featured some of our greatest actors in a wide range of roles. As part of the exhibition, the Playhouse unveils newly commissioned artworks on 21 May by Leeds based illustrator Cait McEniff capturing people’s memories from the last 50 years. 

The Playhouse’s Creative Engagement team are collaborating with community story tellers from across the city to capture and celebrate what Leeds means to them for Half a Century Stories. They will then be hand posted through the letter boxes of communities throughout Leeds, inviting others to share their memories and create new connections.   

“Our 50th anniversary celebrations are a welcome back gift for us to share with the city,” says James Brining. “Whether we’re live in the theatre, across neighbourhoods or in people’s home, this is our time to celebrate together, to look back on what we’ve achieved and to look forward to all the wonderful adventures to come.”

“After everything we’ve been through in the last year, it feels more important than ever to take a moment to reflect on what has made – and continues to make – our city and our theatre so special.”

Leeds Playhouse is confident it can welcome audiences safely and efficiently back into its theatres in May as it took the chance to test and perfect its COVID-19 procedures when it temporarily reopened last October. The team will continue to abide by national guidelines and will keep audiences informed about its safety measures as it reopens.

Tickets are on sale to Leeds Playhouse’s Priority Access Members, Playhouse Pass holders, Supporters and Directors Club members from Thursday 15th April, with tickets on general sale from Tuesday 20th April. https://leedsplayhouse.org.uk/