Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal had an exclusive glimpse behind the scenes of the newly refurbished Leeds Playhouse. The Princess Royal met 30 people taking part in a community bootcamp workshop, 15 young people rehearsing their upcoming play and 25 members of the Playhouse’s three choirs. It was a full morning of fun!
The young people rehearsing their play Influence are part of the Playhouse’s commitment to working with Leeds City College on Quarry Hill.
Youth theatre member Hossein Ahmadi told Her Royal Highness how the Playhouse had helped him after he arrived in the city as a refugee: “This place has helped me a lot with my confidence. I was nervous when I first came here because my English was not so good. I didn’t say very much at first but now I can’t wait to perform in this amazing building. It’s a dream for me.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper trip to the Playhouse without a cheeky look round the new building. The new Bramall Rock Void is a small-scale studio, helping the Playhouse to support and nurture early career artists. The top level of the Playhouse’s new extension is also worth a look at, as it overlooks the city. The Princess Royal also visited the new Irwin Mitchell foyer, unveiled a plaque and enjoyed a performance by the theatre’s three community choirs.
Choir member Sheila Pearson spoke to The Princess Royal about Heydays, the Playhouse’s programme for older people: “This theatre is absolutely fantastic. Every Wednesday, I’m never anywhere else but here. There are so many people from different backgrounds – people who probably wouldn’t meet anywhere else. More people should do things like this. It keeps you young and your mind alive. I was a bit quaky before I met The Princess Royal, but she was natural and lovely. We sang for her, and she said she enjoyed it.”
Speaking after the event, Leeds Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining said: “We were thrilled to welcome Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal to Leeds Playhouse today for an exclusive preview of our newly redeveloped theatre. It has been a real celebratory moment, shared not only with the Royal party but with the brilliant participants, funders, staff and partners who have made this next chapter in the Playhouse’s long history so special. The Playhouse has always been a theatre for the people, a place where they can come together to share stories and create memories, to be entertained and to express their thoughts and feelings about this city and the world we live in. Coming together here today to share our new home with Her Royal Highness feels like the perfect start to our reopening celebrations.”
I for one can’t wait to see the Playhouse’s new look! What are you expecting from the theatre?
Photograph credited to David Lindsay