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Leeds Playhouse launches diverse new season


Dame Josephine Barstow in A Little Night Music – returning to Leeds Playhouse
Dame Josephine Barstow in A Little Night Music – returning to Leeds Playhouse in July

Spring and Summer 2022 at Leeds Playhouse will focus on diversity, collaboration and reconnection, says artistic director James Brining:

Macbeth (February 26-March 19, includes integrated audio description) features Tachia Newall as Macbeth, and as well as showcasing classic Shakespeare, is intended to ignite a passion for the Bard and live theatre among the young.

Say Yes To Tess (left, March 24-April 2) is a true story of activism and Yorkshire grit as Tess discovers politics and leaned to vote her own way. Written and directed by Leeds artist Tess Seddon, the show also has original songs by former Playhouse composer-in-residence Harry Blake.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (below, April 2-23) is a co-production with HOME, Manchester (see here), featuring drag queen Divina De Campo, in her first leading role, as Hedwig.

Director Jamie Fletcher says: "I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Divina De Campo – we have a long history of working together and I know Hedwig is the perfect role for her.”

Maggie May (below, May 7-21) by award-winning writer Frances Poet is a co-production with Leicester’s Curve and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, and is about an ordinary Leeds family trying to balance the challenges of daily life while living with dementia. The production, originally commissioned in 2018, was inspired by the Playhouse’s award-winning Creative Engagement programme.

I Wanna Be Yours (dates to be confirmed) by award-winning slam poet Zia Ahmed, explores the knotty intricacies of sustaining a relationship across contemporary cultural divides through intimate fleeting moments.

The White Card (May 24-June 4) by Claudia Rankine, is a UK and European premiere co-production between Leeds Playhouse, Northern Stage, Birmingham Rep and Soho Theatre in association with HOME, Manchester (see here). The show will be directed by Northern Stage’s new artistic director, Natalie Ibu.

A Little Night Music (July 1-16) is a co-production – and unintentionally a tribute to the late composer – with Opera North of the classic Stephen Sondheim musical, first seen and rave-reviewed in the summer of 2020. Members of the Opera North orchestra and chorus are featured alongside artists including the legendary Dame Josephine Barstow.

Throughout the season, artists from Leeds Playhouse will help to create eight short theatre pieces with members of the public under the title But I Get Up Again, celebrating the city and its resilience throughout the pandemic – culminating in performances in the community and at the playhouse during the summer.

In July, the playhouse will hand over its building to the people of Leeds for Open Season, showcasing the very best community performances the city has to offer. The full programme will be announced in late spring.

Each of the Playhouse’s three auditoria will host visiting companies over the season, including Phoenix Dance Theatre’s 40 Years of Phoenix – a selection of work by internationally acclaimed choreographers; The Sh*t by Kenneth Emson, created in response to research and consultation with youth workers and young people in London and Leeds; Zog and the Flying Doctors; The Gruffalo; Peppa Pig’s Best Day Ever; a series of script-in-hand performances of four short plays by newly-discovered female writers; Yorkshire Dance and Partners’ Fresh 2022, work by youth dance groups from across the county; Northern Broadsides in As You Like It and The Hills Are Ours, by award-winning Daniel Bye and Chumbawumba founder member Boff Whalley.

James Brining said: "We have worked hard to present a season that reflects, inspires and entertains the communities we serve. We take great pride in producing and presenting a diverse range of shows across a variety of scales in our brilliant theatre spaces, as well as out in the community.”