Leeds Playhouse has announced a socially-distanced autumn-winter season of live theatre, both inside the theatre and out in the Leeds area.
The company has also pledged 1,000 free tickets for NHS workers for its Christmas show A Christmas Carol as part of the #LeedsSaysThanks scheme, and has commissioned a new play for performance in communities across Leeds.
A range of safety measures has been introduced for visitors: 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 among them.
Previously announced productions include Connecting Voices (Oct 2-17) with Opera North; a new production with imitating the dog – Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show (Oct 7-8) and Northern Ballet in a two-week mixed programme of work including a restaging of the classic Dangerous Liaisons (Oct 21-31).
Two of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues, previously announced, will star Imelda Staunton and Maxine Peake (Nov 12-14) and will now be joined by a third monologue – Rochenda Sandall in her own work The Outside Dog (Nov 7).
Poet and playwright Zodwa Nyoni’s Nine Lives returns to the Playhouse (Nov 5-6) after debuting at the theatre in 2014. Presented by Leeds Studio, the powerful drama combines humour and humanity in a deeply personal account, performed by Lladel Bryant.
Following on from their co-production with the Playhouse in October, Opera North will present a new double bill combining Handel’s pastoral opera Acis and Galatea, and Brecht and Weill’s acerbic Seven Deadly Sins. (Nov 11-21).
Leeds-based Wrongsemble returns with a new family-friendly musical, The Not So Ugly Sisters (Nov 18-21), an alternative story of Cinderella’s infamous step-family. The two-hander is written and directed by Elvi Piper, with an all-female northern cast and an original score. The production was scheduled to go on a community tour earlier this year in co-production with the Playhouse and Red Ladder Theatre Company, but the country was locked-down on the first day of rehearsals.
Riptide Theatre Company returns to the Playhouse this autumn with Project Intimacy, a two-week-long "pervasive experience". This unique digital exercise will pair participants through instructions received by text messages. Riptide has made several places available to Leeds Playhouse Heydays members in a bid to promote connection and battle isolation among older people. Participants will be paired with someone from the other side of the world when Riptide showcases the work for the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2020.
Red Ladder Theatre Company returns in November with new playwright Nana-Kofi Kufuor’s debut play My Voice Was Heard But It Was Ignored (Nov 26-28). A young black teacher witnesses her disruptive student being violently accosted by the police. He is seething with anger that she failed to answer his plea for help and takes drastic action the next day to confront her.
Leeds Playhouse has a double festive offering, with one show in the Quarry Theatre and another touring local communities.
Transforming the Quarry Theatre will be Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (Dec 3-Jan 9), adapted by playwright Deborah McAndrew. The Playhouse is offering 1,000 free tickets to NHS workers for the show, with further offers for other front-line workers to be announced for future productions.
The Playhouse has also commissioned Robert Alan Evans to create a new family-friendly production which will be performed on the back of a truck driving through the neighbourhoods of Leeds.
Playhouse artistic director James Brining said: "We feel an overwhelming drive to reopen the Playhouse so we can share our stages and resources and work collaboratively with local companies and artists, providing a sense of hope and offering entertainment at a time when we need it most.”