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West Yorkshire Playhouse announces final Spring/Summer 2018 Season before embarking on major redevelopment


West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Spring/Summer 2018 Season presents vital world class theatre, showcasing innovative new work, thrilling drama and uplifting stories of Leeds and the world.

The season includes:

  • A pioneering festival of theatre and dementia, Every Third Minute including a brand new stage adaptation of the best-selling novel Still Alice
  • The launch of two major UK tours, with political drama This House and foot-stomping musical Sunshine on Leith
  • Thrilling new productions of the modern classic Our Country’s Good, and world premiere stage adaptation of hit novel The Girl on the Train
  • The return of The Damned United; community celebration Searching for the Heart of Leeds; and Alan Bennett’s classic Talking Heads
  • Christmas 2018 production announced as Charles DickensA Christmas Carol
  • West Yorkshire Playhouse co-productions travel the globe, with Barber Shop Chronicles touring to Australia and New Zealand, and Strictly Ballroom The Musical opening in London’s West End


Searching for the heart of Leeds - West Yorkshire Playhouse


West Yorkshire Playhouse Productions

Every third minute in the UK someone will begin living with dementia. Continuing our award-winning, pioneering work with people living with dementia, the Playhouse presents the ground-breaking Every Third Minute (9 Feb – 31 March) a festival of theatre, dementia and hope. The first of its kind, the festival puts people living with dementia at the heart of the creative process, curating a broad programme of work from new theatre and workshops to live music from singer/songwriter Hannah Peel, and the joyous The Nature of Forgetting fresh from a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

David Grindley (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Gate Theatre, Dublin) directs star of stage and TV Sharon Small (The Inspector Linley Mysteries, Trust Me, BBC) as Alice in the brand new stage adaptation by Christine Mary Dunford of Lisa Genova’s best-selling novel of Still Alice (9 Feb – 3 March). Marking a key moment in the Every Third Minute festival, Still Alice explores the effects of early-onset dementia on identity, family and relationships, in this uncompromising yet tender portrayal. Still Alice is a West Yorkshire Playhouse production in association with Michael Park for The Infinite Group.

James Graham’s prescient political drama This House (23 Feb – 10 March), which played to sold-out houses at the National Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre and in the West End, launches its first ever national tour from West Yorkshire Playhouse. Set in the engine rooms of Westminster in 1974, this politically urgent production is directed by Headlong Artistic Director Jeremy Herrin, and designed by Rae Smith (Barber Shop Chronicles, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, West Yorkshire Playhouse).

Following the sell-out success of the 2016 world premiere, the West Yorkshire Playhouse and Red Ladder Theatre Company co-production The Damned United (27 March – 7 April) returns to Leeds. This passionate account of Brian Clough’s ill-fated tenure as manager of Leeds United will return to the Courtyard Theatre in a stripped back new staging before visiting venues across Leeds as part of our Community Tour programme, continuing the Playhouse’s commitment to staging work in the heart of our communities.

Transporting the Playhouse to 1787 Australia is Timberlake Wertenbaker’s classic drama Our Country’s Good (11 – 21 April). Directed by Fiona Buffini, this fully accessible production is produced by Nottingham Playhouse in association with Ramps on the Moon (Tommy, The Government Inspector).

Set to a classic soundtrack by The Proclaimers, West Yorkshire Playhouse’s brand new production of the life-affirming hit musical Sunshine on Leith (20 April – 19 May) opens in the Quarry Theatre before embarking on a major national tour. Scripted by award-winning stage and TV writer Stephen Greenhorn and directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, West Yorkshire Playhouse), this heartwarming, foot stomping adventure explores the true meaning of home.

West Yorkshire Playhouse is delighted to produce the world premiere of The Girl on the Train (12 May – 9 June). Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel adapt Paula Hawkins’ riveting best-selling novel, and hit Dreamworks film, bringing the thriller that enthralled the nation to the stage for the very first time. Directed by Joe Murphy, who makes his Playhouse debut following Woyzeck starring Star Wars’ John Boyega at the Old Vic, The Girl on the Train is a West Yorkshire Playhouse production in association with Simon Friend.

The joyous final production in the Quarry Theatre ahead of the transformative redevelopment is Searching for the Heart of Leeds (19 – 23 June), a celebration of the vibrant stories and people of our city. Performed by a community company, this empowering closing production is written by BAFTA-nominated writer Mark Catley, directed by Playhouse Director of Creative Engagement Alexander Ferris, (Rise, Old Vic Community Company) and with movement by the internationally renowned Phoenix Dance Theatre.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining, Associate Director Amy Leach and Director in Residence John R. Wilkinson direct the Courtyard Theatre’s closing production, Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads (14 – 23 June). Sharp, witty and pertinent, Talking Heads will be performed in the Courtyard Theatre, across the city in the homes of local Leeds residents and in community venues. This is a prelude to the Playhouse’s plans from Summer 2018; the doors to the Quarry and the Courtyard theatres will be closed for a major redevelopment, and the Playhouse’s artistic programme will be transported to new and exciting venues, including the Playhouse’s own Pop Up Theatre within its Quarry Hill home.



Still Alice - West Yorkshire Playhouse


West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said:

“Our Spring/Summer 2018 Season will fill the Playhouse with vibrant and eclectic work both of epic and intimate scale. I want the work on our stages to continue to interrogate where we are in the world, UK and in the city we reside; questioning what it means to be human, what you call home, and where you lay your roots - from the joyful celebration of Sunshine on Leith to the quiet reflection of Still Alice.

Our creative work is made up of three component parts – the performance programme on our stages, our award-winning creative outreach activities with diverse communities, and our Furnace artistic development programme which supports new and emerging theatre makers to develop their practice. These three components are all interconnected and equally important to us - without the others each component would not have the strength and vitality that they do. Together they provide our audiences, artists and participants with a plethora of opportunities to get involved with the Playhouse.

Our upcoming redevelopment in 2018 is an exciting new chapter in the Playhouse’s history, providing us with the opportunity to further increase our contribution to the ever-growing and rich cultural scene this city has to offer. This is a ground-breaking moment which will transform the building and the organisation, improved access to and around the theatres, and the addition of a new studio theatre space in the Bramall Rock Void and providing a new city-facing entrance. As the redevelopment work begins, we will temporarily transform one of our workshop spaces here on the Playhouse site into a substantial 350-seat theatre. A full and varied programme of work will run throughout Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019 - creating a unique opportunity to experience the Playhouse as you’ve never seen it before. As part of that programme I am delighted to announce A Christmas Carol for Christmas 2018.


Talking Heads - West Yorkshire Playhouse


Work at Live Art Bistro in partnership with West Yorkshire Playhouse

The Playhouse is committed to ensuring West Yorkshire has one of the most vibrant cultural landscapes in the country. This season the Playhouse, in partnership with Live Art Bistro, co-present two shows that are pushing at the boundary between narrative theatre and live art at Live Art Bistro’s venue on Regent Street:

Bradford’s ground-breaking learning-disability theatre company Mind the Gap present Mia: Daughters of Fortune (27 – 28 April). Created and Directed by Joyce Nga Yu Lee, this fast moving, raw and eye-opening production explores the truths and myths about learning disability and parenthood in today’s society, performed by learning disabled artists.

Following a sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe, the award winning Sh!t Theatre present DollyWould (11 – 12 May), a bold new show about country legend Dolly Parton, cloning, branding, immortality and death.



Work in the Barber Studio

West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Artist Pauline Mayers presents What If I Told You? (13 – 17 Feb), a West Yorkshire Playhouse and Mayers Ensemble co-production. Carefully balancing theatre and dance, What If I Told You? immerses the audience in Pauline’s world as she invites them to pause, breathe and reconsider the stories we tell about our past and the history on which we build our futures.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Prime Theatre and Cahoots NI present Penguins (15 – 17 Feb), a delightful new theatre and dance production of friendship, fun and identity, celebrating being different and the ever-changing meaning of family.

Written by world record-holding beatboxer Testament and directed by Eclipse Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Dawn Walton, Black Men Walking (21 – 24 Feb) follows three friends who hike together on the first Saturday of every month, finding themselves looking back through history before they can move forwards. An Eclipse Theatre Company and Royal Exchange Theatre co-production.



Sunshine on Leith - West Yorkshire Playhouse


Visiting Productions

Internationally renowned contemporary dance company, Phoenix Dance Theatre present the world premiere of Windrush: Movement of the People (7 – 10 Feb). A lively celebration of the rise of multicultural Britain celebrating the 70th anniversary of the arrival of SS Empire Windrush that bought the first Caribbean migrants to the UK, Windrush: Movement of the People debuts as part of Phoenix Dance Theatre’s 2018 Mixed Programme.

Birdsong Productions Ltd in association with Original Theatre present Birdsong (13 – 17 Feb), a mesmerising story of love and courage. A young Englishman embarks on a passionate and dangerous affair with the beautiful Isabelle Azaire in pre-war France, turning both their worlds upside down. This adaptation by Rachel Wagstaff of Sebastian Faulks’ bestselling novel marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1.

Bursting with growing grannies, feathery farm animals and bags of frothbuggling family fun, Curve and Rose Theatre Kingston present the magnificent George’s Marvellous Medicine (13 – 17 March). Filled with adventure as plucky George contends with his grumbling, grouchy Grandma, Roald Dahl’s treasured tale is set to delight children and adults alike in this phizz-whizzing spectacular.

The world famous Teletubbies are starring in their first ever theatre show Teletubbies Live (27 – 28 March). Join Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po in a performance full of love, fun and laughter as they explore the magical world of Teletubbyland.

Peppa Pig and friends make a fantastic return to the Playhouse with brand new live show Peppa Pig’s Adventure! (9 – 10 June). Join Peppa and friends as they get ready to go on an exciting camping trip to the woods, full of games, laughter and live music.

Award-winning Mark Thomas returns to West Yorkshire Playhouse with the funny, moving and necessary Showtime From The Frontline (15 – 17 March). Presented by Lakin McCarthy in association with Theatre Royal Stratford East, Mark and his team set out to run a comedy club and put on two nights in Jenin in the West Bank, only to find that it is not so simple to celebrate freedom of speech in a place with so little freedom.

Transporting the Playhouse back to 1840 is the thrilling adaptation of Henry James’ classic ghost story, Turn of the Screw (20 – 24 March). As a governess takes a role caring for two orphans in a seemingly idyllic country house, she begins to realise they are not alone. This terrifying tale which inspired Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black is written by Tim Luscombe and directed by Daniel Buckroyd.

Kneehigh make a spectacular return to the Playhouse with the Bristol Old Vic co-production The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk (20 – 24 March). Lovers Marc and Bella are immortalised as the picture of romance, but whilst on canvas they flew, in life they walked through some of the most devastating times in history. Directed by Emma Rice, this production told in Kneehigh’s inimitable storytelling style is interwoven throughout with music and dance inspired by Russian Jewish tradition.

Drag star Divina De Campo leads the cast of Dancing Bear (6 – 7 April). A dizzying cabaret of contradictions presented by Jamie Fletcher & Company and Contact, Dancing Bear explores the tightrope of personal integrity, social acceptance and mental health that many LGBT+ people find themselves precariously balancing on through a flip of pop tune and storytelling.

Brilliantly updating Pierre de Marivaux’s classic French farce, actor Nigel Planer (The Young Ones, Filthy Rich and Catflap) reimagines the 18th Century romantic comedy as The Game of Love & Chai (1 – 5 May). Seeing a modern Asian family in England grapple with love and marriage, this brand new production employs Bollywood song and dance to delicious effect in a clash of class and passion.

Northern Broadsides Hard Times (22 – 26 May) is a new adaptation of Charles Dickens great Northern novel. In a world where imagination is forbidden, dark, cold mills are interrupted by the colour and vibrancy of Sleary’s Circus in a touching and hilarious tale of suppressed love, seduction and longing.



The Damned United - West Yorkshire Playhouse


Work presented outside of Leeds

West Yorkshire Playhouse, the National Theatre and Fuel co-production Barber Shop Chronicles, inspired by a Leeds barber and currently playing at the National Theatre, will embark on a tour of Australia and New Zealand from 18 January.

Smash-hit spectacular Strictly Ballroom The Musical, presented by Global Creatures in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse, makes its West End debut at the Piccadilly Theatre from 16 March.