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Blackthorn - Turbulent tale of first love rooted in rural Yorkshire premieres on stage

13 - 17 September 2016

Barber Studio

The first play by Yorkshire writer, Charley Miles is to be unveiled in the Barber Studio at West Yorkshire Playhouse. Blackthorn is a contemporary, lyrical love story which powerfully reflects local language and landscapes.

It tells of the intense bonds that form between the only two children born to a tiny village in a generation, and how they twist and strain under the pressure of their differing future, threatening to pull them apart forever.

The writer, Charley Miles, has been supported by the Playhouse on her artistic journey to create Blackthorn after using its Summer Sublets scheme, which allows artists across various art forms access to rehearsal spaces. Later in 2015, she then applied for Playwrights 1, part of the theatre's writer development programme later that year, and the concept of Blackthorn came into being.

It has now been chosen to be performed in the Playhouse’s Autumn/Winter 2016 Season as part of its annual commitment to showing two pieces of new work by writers in the region.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director, James Brining, said:

Plays like Blackthorn are the reason we invest in developing local artists.
It’s an everyday story about two kids from a rural community which becomes extraordinary through the poetic and deeply personal way it’s told.

The dialogue is cutting and even vicious at times as the characters wrestle with their emotions and anxieties, but it is also lyrically beautiful.

We’re thrilled to be presenting such a quality play by a new writer which I believe will resonate with audiences across Yorkshire.”


Blackthorn is the first play to be presented as part of Furnace: Plays - a seasonal series of brand new, stripped back productions of plays by writers born, raised or currently living in Yorkshire.

Writer of Blackthorn, Charley Miles said:

It’s incredibly special for me that my play has been selected as part of the Playhouse’s current season.

Blackthorn is an artistic reflection of my own childhood: a look at how, and if, we can still belong to the people and places of our past, as we grow and change.

The play’s name comes from the Blackthorn plant, which is known for being incredibly difficult to uproot. As the characters come of age, their beliefs and expectations change, so the urgent question becomes whether or not their bond can endure

Charlotte Wade and Harry Egan have been cast in the lead roles. They are joined by Sheffield based Sound Designer Heather Fenoughty and Movement Director Natasha Harrison, who trained in Leeds at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.


The play has been closely developed with the Playhouse’s Literary Associate, Jacqui Honess-Martin, who is also the Director. Jacqui Honess-Martin said:

The nuance, depth and poetry of Blackthorn make it hard to believe that this is Charley’s first play.

It is a deeply emotional and delicate coming of age story that will unfold perfectly in our intimate Barber Studio.

Charley is the first playwright to be supported right the way through to a production by our Playwrights 1 development scheme, which focuses on supporting and developing the skills, craft and confidence of writers who were born in Yorkshire or live here today. It’s a journey we hope to take with many more.”