Leeds Playhouse is celebrating its 50th anniversary: here’s what’s coming up

New productions and exciting exhibitions come to the city as Leeds Playhouse celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The playhouse was created by and for the people of Leeds, so the celebrations are fully focused on those same people 50 years later.

Audiences will be welcomed back to the playhouse for the first time since November to enjoy a series of monologues. The six pieces have been written by six different writers, sharing their own unique perspective on Leeds and the wider region. The writers are:

  • Simon Armitage
  • Leanna Benjamin
  • Kamal Kaan
  • Alice Nutter
  • Maxine Peake
  • Stan Owens

Each writer has taken a decade from across the Playhouse’s lifespan as inspiration, from 1970s up to the 202s. Leeds Playhouse’s Artistic Director James Brining, Associate Director Amy Leach and RTYDS Resident Assistant Director Sameena Hussain will be joined by Evie Manning of Common Wealth Theatre, Theatre State’s Tess Seddon and Theatre Director Amanda Huxtable to direct these powerful and witty monologues.

Decades: Stories from the City will be staged in the Courtyard Theatre 19th – Saturday 29th May and available online via Playhouse: At Home from 24th May – Saturday 5th June.

Fun for all the family

For families, Fairy Poppins and the Naughty Winter Ghost will open in Playhouse Square before heading out on a community tour. Created by Robert Alan Evans and directed by Alexander Ferris, this magical adventure tells the story of three rambunctious players delving into the deep dark woods to meet an 800-year-old forgotten fairy. The show is sponsored by local insurance brokers J M Glendinning as part of their longstanding support for the Playhouse.

Step into the wonderful world of Leeds Playhouse

For those looking to learn more about the theatre, the exhibition 50 Years of Leeds Playhouse may be just the thing. The exhibition, curated by Courtney Spencer, is also available to view online as well as within the Playhouse itself. It looks at the theatre’s history highlighting its pioneering, industry-leading work, such as becoming the first ever Theatre of Sanctuary for Refugees and People Seeking Asylum, and creating the first ever Dementia Friendly productions – now adopted all over the world.

It will, of course, also highlight the Playhouse’s most memorable and ground-breaking productions. Newly commissioned artworks by Leeds-based illustrator Cait McEniff will also capture people’s memories from the last 50 years.

Visitors will be able to enjoy the exhibition from 21st May, Monday to Saturday, 10am – 3pm. Entry is free but guests are asked to book a timed ticket to help the Playhouse manage visitor numbers.

Leeds Playhouse will also be busy reaching out to local communities through its Creative Engagement programme. Half a Century Stories will be developed in collaboration with community story tellers, hand posted through the letter boxes of communities throughout Leeds. It’s a lovely idea and will no doubt really get people talking.

James Brining, Artistic Dirctor of Leeds Playhouse says: “Our 50th anniversary celebrations are a welcome back gift for us to share with the city. Whether we’re live in the theatre, across neighbourhoods or in people’s home, this is our time to celebrate together; to look back on what we’ve achieved and to look forward to all the wonderful adventures to come. After everything we’ve been through in the last year, it feels more important than ever to take a moment to reflect on what has made – and continues to make – our city and our theatre so special.” 

Like many theatres, Leeds Playhouse is aiming to open its doors again in May, abiding by all national guidelines and safety measures. Details of additional shows and events will be announced hopefully very soon.

For more information and to buy tickets, head to the Leeds Playhouse website.

Photography credited to Anthony Robling

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