Leeds Playhouse Autumn/Winter 2023 Season is an invitation to treat the theatre as a home

4th July 2023


Leeds Playhouse has unveiled the full spectrum of performances and events on offer at the heart of its Autumn/Winter 2023 Season. From large scale musicals to intimate dramas, beloved children’s stories to mind-expanding conversations, the season showcases a variety of comedy, poetry, music and theatre, boasting a plethora of great entertainment to welcome people with an invitation to make Leeds Playhouse their home.


“’Home’ means something different to all of us and, this season, we are exploring many manifestations of this idea, through a diverse programme of performances in our three brilliant theatre spaces, our work to connect with people from communities across the city and our skills and learning programmes for artists and young people. More and more, we’re developing partnerships with individuals, groups and businesses across the Leeds City Region looking for a place to meet, hold an event or perform their own work, sharing different perspectives on what constitutes our ‘home’,” said Artistic Director and CEO James Brining.

“We’re exploring and expanding the ways in which our theatre building can be used and how we can create a warm and welcoming space in which people can thrive creatively. We continue to live through challenging times, and I recognise that part of our job is to offer entertainment and release, as well as the opportunity to explore and understand who people are in relation to each other, asking questions and discovering a variety of different answers.

“We are a crossroads for the city, a place where people come and meet each other as equals. It’s our pleasure to create theatre of the highest quality for audiences to enjoy, but that’s not our only role. We also want to listen to and learn from other people’s experiences and share those together in a way that helps build on the already strong bonds across the communities of the city.”


Highlights of the Autumn/Winter 2023 season include:

This 30th anniversary revival of Jonathan Harvey‘s iconic, coming-out and coming-of-age story set in the nineties, is about community, friendship, rites of passage and what it is to be sixteen and in love. Beautiful Thing is a touching, urban love story, full of warmth and humour. This Leeds Playhouse, Stratford East and HOME co-production tenderly explores first love on a South London Estate in the 90s. Courtyard theatre: 18 – 28 October


Artistic Director James Brining will direct Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, treating the city of Leeds to the hit musical for the festive season. The production will feature memorable songs such as ‘Food, Glorious Food’, ‘Oom Pah-Pah’, ‘I’d Do Anything’ and the angelic sounds of ‘Where is Love?’. There are even more reasons to consider yourself at home as the Playhouse transforms the Quarry stage into a theatre ‘in the round’. Quarry Theatre: 27 November – 27 January


An exciting new musical version of Roald Dahl’s children’s book The Enormous Crocodile, about a large hungry crocodile searching for a delicious child to have for tea, will bring global contemporary music, world-class puppetry and enormous amounts of fun. It is co-produced by Leeds Playhouse, the Roald Dahl Story Company and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. This marvellously moreish story features a playful, eclectic score by composer Ahmed Abdullahi Gallab (Sinkane), book and lyrics by Suhayla El-Bushra (Arabian Nights, Royal Lyceum Edinburgh; The Long Song, Chichester Festival Theatre and Channel 4’s Ackley Bridge) and additional music and lyrics by Tom Brady (The Butterfly Lion, Chichester Festival Theatre; Musical Supervisor; Arranger for Guys & Dolls, Bridge Theatre). It is developed and directed by Emily Lim (Everything, Company Three; Pericles, National Theatre). Courtyard Theatre: 2 December 2023– 6 January 2024


Three major partnerships will present a variety of ideas, innovations and inspirations across all three stages:

  • 2023 is the centenary of BBC Radio Dramas. To celebrate this unique artform, BBC Contains Strong Language brings together some of the sparkiest professionals in the field with two days of inspiring sessions and conversations. 22 & 23 September
  • For the first time, Leeds International Festival of Ideas will be hosted at Leeds Playhouse. Featuring four days of conversations and curiosity with panel discussions, fireside chats and an impressive line-up of speakers, performers and thinkers from around the world, this promises to be an exciting and thought-provoking week for all who attend. 27 – 30 September
  • Created at the Playhouse in 2011 before becoming an independent company in 2015, Transform is a Leeds-based international performance festival. This year it returns, presenting two productions at Leeds Playhouse as part of the 2023 edition. Oh Deer! by Australian company APHIDS makes a lively new space to reflect on personal and universal experiences of loss, all with a nod and a wink. In One Song by Belgian artist Miet Warlop, an ensemble of extraordinary performers invites us to witness an exhilarating physical struggle, grappling with themes of life and death, hope and rebirth, as well as the bodily realities of sweat, pain and exhaustion. 13 – 14 October Oh Deer! 19 – 20 October One Song


Through Autumn/Winter 2023, Leeds Playhouse continues to play a significant role in supporting and nurturing the local ecology, presenting work from a diverse range of locally based organisations and artists:

  • The red carpet will be rolled out in August for The Carnival Royalty Show as the city of Leeds sways to the sweet sounds of Socabeats and steelpans as the carnival comes to town. 26 August
  • For one night only, join Fredlin Morency for Fredlin First Steps the story of an 18-year-old singer, songwriter, musician, composer, musical director and choir director currently taking Leeds by storm. An evening of music from an exceptional young artist who recently performed as part of the Reggae Roots choir at the Coronation Concert. 15 September
  • Developed through the Playhouse’s Furnace programme, The Light House is a real-life story of falling in love and staying in love, even when the lights go out and you’re lost in the dark. 5 – 7 October
  • Now in its second year, Leeds Playhouse and Leeds Conservatoire continue to develop their unique partnership, presenting gripping, 90-minute productions of Romeo and Juliet and As You Like It in the Quarry theatre performed by the graduating actors from Leeds Conservatoire’s BA Acting and BA Actor Musician courses. Romeo and Juliet 12 October, As You Like It 14 October
  • A Play of Sorts by Leeds-based Barber B is the extraordinary true tale of how a Leeds barber created his world-renowned hair studio and training academy after teaching himself the craft. Set against the cultural backdrop of 80s and 90s Chapeltown, Leeds, Barber B moves through the characters, opportunities and obstacles which defined the beginning of his career. 13 – 14 October
  • archipelago arts collective presents Santa Must Die!, a raucous gig theatre show for the most difficult time of the year. A show about when Christmas is all work and no play and fighting against that which is meant to keep you down. 12 – 16 December

During Autumn/Winter 2023, the Playhouse welcomes some of the UK’s leading theatre companies and artists to its stages. Productions include:

  • Based on Sophie Anderson’s much-loved novel, The House With Chicken Legs is the spellbinding story of one girl’s adventure to find her destiny. This co-production from award-winning theatre company Les Enfants Terribles and HOME Manchester will see puppets, live music and magic bring this story to life on stage. 13 – 16 September
  • Join 2023 jury chairs Bernardine Evaristo and Joelle Taylor as they host the UK Forward Poetry Prize – the perfect poetry mixtape curated by ten judges. A celebration for all who want to discover and enjoy the best contemporary poetry. 16 October
  • I, Daniel Blake is a touching and vital story of how people come together in the face of adversity and how sometimes creating a family to support you just isn’t enough. Adapted by Dave Johns from the film directed by Ken Loach, it comes to Leeds following a sell-out run at Northern Stage in Newcastle. 3 – 7 October
  • Theatre Company of Sanctuary Curious Monkey presents Hamzeh Al-Hussien’s extraordinary story Penguin, taking audiences on a personal journey through the places he knows best. From his village in the Syrian mountains to the Za’atari camp in Jordan via Gateshead and inside his mind, a place full of music, dancing, fantasies and marbles. Hamzeh invites the audience to be his childhood friends, to hold up the moon to light his way into his dreams, brushing the dust from his clothes… and taking to the stage. 20 – 21 October
  • James Acaster’s Hecklers Welcome comes to the Quarry theatre in a run that sold out in minutes when it went on sale early this year. 25 – 28 October.
  • Young audiences are in for an intergalactic adventure with The Smeds and The Smoos as Tall Stories present an adaptation of the best-selling picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. 2 – 4 November
  • Funny, raw, and surprising High Times and Dirty Monsters is a brand-new piece of hip-hop gig theatre exploring the ups and downs of being young in 2023. Performed by an amazing collective of actors, beatboxers, rappers, and dancers this 20 Stories High, Graeae Theatre, Liverpool Everyman + Playhouse and LEEDS 2023 co-production will be told with creative captioning, integrated sign language and integrated audio description. 9 – 11 November.


Furnace, the Playhouse’s Artist Development programme, continues to flourish with even more opportunities for Yorkshire-based artists. Applications open next month for the first of three Kay Mellor Fellowships. Created in memory of the legendary Kay Mellor in partnership with Rollem Productions, BBC and Leeds City Council, writers based in Yorkshire are being invited to apply for a year-long paid residency which includes time to develop their craft. In autumn comes a new Introduction to Set Design course supported by Jerwood Arts Developing Artists Fund with applications open over the summer. And November sees the return of the annual Furnace Festival, which will see a cacophony of sharings, rehearsed readings, workshops and panel events by local artists.


The Playhouse’s award-winning Creative Engagement team continues to work with over 12,000 people each year, delivering work with participants ‘on your doorstep’ and around the city as well as providing a warm welcome in the Playhouse building. This includes the continuation of work in partnership with Bellbrooke Surgery in Harehills, Leeds, offering wellbeing sessions for older people; creative performance projects for young people; a Conversation Café for people seeking sanctuary; and creative writing sessions for adults.


General tickets on sale from 5 July unless otherwise stated.