Leeds Playhouse’s Autumn Winter season looks set to ensure audiences can forget about COVID-19 for an hour or two. The Playhouse has already proved it’s COVID-secure and ready to welcome patrons, and now it’s bringing further theatre to the community across the Leeds City Region. Safety measures that have already been introduced include: socially-distanced seating, e-tickets, deep cleaning, staggered entry times to reduce queues, temperature checks, a face covering policy, and sanitising stations throughout the building, which benefits from newly redeveloped large and airy foyers, and a newly installed state of the art ventilation system.
As well as larger productions, Leeds Playhouse will engage with local artists and companies to produce enjoyable shared experiences.
All Together Now, supported by Child Friendly Leeds, will offer free places for five to eight year old children. Leeds Playhouse will also engage with a number of other people within the Leeds community via online activity and safe face-to-face activities.
The next big thing to hit Leeds Playhouse will be a series of monologues from Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads. Imelda Staunton, Maxine Peake, Tasmin Greig and Rochenda Sandall will all star in a different monologue throughout November and December.
Playwright Zodwa Nyoni’s Nine Lives returns to the Playhouse after six years. The talented writer has since gone on to write Carnival Chronicles, Ode to Leeds and Boi Boi is Dead. Nine Lives was critically acclaimed last time it came to the Playhouse and, performed by Lladel Bryant, it’s set to bring the house down yet again.
Opera North is coming to the Playhouse towards the end of November, sharing their double-bill of Handel’s pastoral opera ACIS and Galatea and Brecht and Weill’s acerbic ‘sung ballet’ Seven Deadly Sins.
Meanwhile, Leeds-based Wrongsemble returns with a new family-friendly musical. The Not So Ugly Sisters tells an alternative story of Cinderella’s infamous step-family. It stars an all-female northern cast.
Elvi Piper, Artistic Director of Wrongsemble said: “We’re so delighted to be finally able to fully realise this production of ‘The Not So Ugly Sisters’ and share it with the families of Leeds as part of Leeds Playhouse’s incredible season of work to welcome back audiences. We hope you’ll be dancing in your seats (at a safe distance!) – I know I will be!”
Riptide Theatre Company return to Leeds Playhouse this Autumn with Project Intimacy, a two-week long experience which aims to combat isolation and connect people from across the globe. They’ll be pairing participants through instructions received via text messages to form a remote pairing.
Alex Palmer, Artistic Director of Riptide, said: “We hope this experience will connect people from different countries, making connections across time-zones, over oceans, and with people from all backgrounds in a time of isolation and disconnect. We hope it will encourage people to look beyond their own four walls and to find a meaningful connection with a stranger.”
Nana-Kofi Kufuor’s debut play My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored. When a black teacher witnesses a disruptive student being violently accosted by the police, will she answer his plea for help? And what will be the consequences?
Playwright Nana-Kofi Kufuor said: “The inspiration came from working at the Pupil Referral Unit, when I had a student try to take a knife to stab another student. The police were outside, and they took him. I saw him a few weeks later and he asked why I didn’t help him. A rush of guilt changed to anger and quickly to sympathy as he saw me as his protector. But I knew I couldn’t do anything. The crux of this story is how two people react to the same situation: they go on a journey; a journey a lot of people of colour go on – a realisation that where you are now isn’t necessarily where you come from.”
To bring a turbulent year to a close, Leeds Playhouse is bringing A Christmas Carol back to the stage thanks to the long-standing support of Families Partner Caddick Group and Access Partner Irwin Mitchell will help to ensure we can bring Christmas to Leeds this year.
Charles Dickens’ classic was adapted by playwright Deborah McAndrew and brought to Leeds Playhouse back in 2018. Now the production, directed by Amy Leach, will be reinventing the production for modern COVID-19 times.
In another lovely gesture, Leeds Playhouse will be donating 1000 free tickets for NHS workers as part of the #LeedsSaysThanks scheme.
For more information about any of these fantastic productions, visit the Leeds Playhouse website.