Live entertainment is back! Leeds Playhouse and Opera North join forces

Connecting Voices is a programme of six new and existing pieces of live performance, co-produced by Leeds Playhouse and Opera North.

The pieces will be played over three weekends in October in four areas of the Playhouse, ensuring total safety for performers and audience members.

Live performance pieces include Orpheus in the Record Store, a newly commissioned piece by Leeds based beatboxer Testament and director Aletta Collins, will fuse spoken word and beatboxing with players from the Orchestra of Opera North in an exciting new collaboration that gives the Greek myth of Orpheus a contemporary Yorkshire twist. I’ve seen Testament live before and he’s absolutely brilliant, so it’s highly recommended to go along if you fancy seeing something new.

Playing alongside this will be two seminal pieces which both premiered in 1958 and present characters isolated from others and struggling to reconnect through technology. The first is Samuel Beckett’s extraordinary monologue Krapp’s Last Tape with acclaimed actor Niall Buggy performing in the Bramall Rock Void. Francis Poulenc’s short opera La Voix Humaine will be performed by Opera North soprano Gillene Butterfield in the Barber Studio.

In the Courtyard Theatre, each of the three weekends will see a different and newly devised piece of work from Leeds-based spoken word artist Khadijah Ibrahiim, and two pieces by freelance director Matthew Eberhardt. Matthew will work with singers, actors, young people and musicians including classically-trained singer Keertan Kaur Rehal, Amy J Payne and actor Robert Pickavance to create contemporary responses to the themes of remembrance, collaboration and the act of storytelling.

James Brining, Artistic Director, Leeds Playhouse said: “Re-opening the Playhouse after six months of enforced closure and being separated from each other has made us value even more than before the act of live performance and what that means. Our beautifully refurbished building provides us with many opportunities to safely welcome audiences and artists back into the Playhouse. Connecting Voices is a carefully curated programme exploring isolation and connection, resilience and reflection as well as the relationship between performer and audience member in a shared space. We’re delighted to be working once again with Opera North, pooling our resources to help the city of Leeds to get back on its feet and bring joyous and powerful communal shared experiences back to the lives of its citizens.

“As we head into our 50th year at this challenging time, it’s vital that we reconnect with audiences and communities and collaborate with bold and diverse voices from across the region. We can’t wait to welcome back artists and participants into the building safely to create and experience live theatre once again.”

Richard Mantle, General Director, Opera North, said: “Connecting Voices is a compelling exploration of the power of the human voice and the profound desire to establish meaningful ties out of experiences of isolation and loss. We are delighted that we are able to begin the process of welcoming audiences safely back to live performance through this collection of work in partnership with Leeds Playhouse.

“Connecting Voices brings together voices spoken and sung from across the city and wider region, and we are especially thrilled to be collaborating with such a diverse and talented group of freelance artists, singers, musicians, poets and directors who all share artistic ties to both Opera North and to Leeds Playhouse. Now, more than ever, it is apparent how strongly intertwined the artistic and cultural community in our region is, and how important collaboration will be in ensuring a vibrant future for the arts and audiences across the city.”

In line with current Government guidelines, audiences will be of limited capacity with social distancing and will be required to wear masks no doubt. Temperature checking will also be in place. It’s a shame the rules are so restrictive, but that won’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of seeing live entertainment live on stage again!

For more information about Connecting Voices, check out the Leeds Playhouse website.

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