West Yorkshire Playhouse

Entertainment & Arts

Europe, United Kingdom, Yorkshire and the Humber

The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, England is a theatre which opened in March 1990 as part of the regeneration of the Quarry Hill area of the city. According to the West Yorkshire Playhouse website it has established a reputation both nationally and internationally as one of Britain's most exciting producing theatres, winning awards for everything from its productions to its customer service, and it is "the largest regional repertory theatre in the UK outside London and Stratford". The theatre's first artistic director was Jude Kelly (1990–2002). Her successor is Ian Brown. The foundation stone was laid by Judi Dench in 1989, and on completion it was opened by Diana Rigg. The theatre was completed at a cost of £13 million. The West Yorkshire Playhouse complex comprises: The Quarry Theatre (750 seats), The Courtyard Theatre (350 seats), a CAMRA award-winning bar with wireless internet connection, a restaurant, the Newlyn Gallery, two function rooms (the Congreve Room and the Priestley Room), three rehearsal spaces, a recording studio, extensive technical workshops, dressing rooms, a costume hire department and offices for production, administrative and artistic teams. Productions cover a wide range from classic drama to modern European theatre and children's shows. There is an emphasis on new writing, especially from the north of England. There are many coproductions with other regional theatres, some of which go on to tour or transfer to London theatres. Visiting companies include Northern Broadsides, Kneehigh Theatre and Peepolykus. The theatre was home to the original version of the musical "Spend Spend Spend", the story of the life of Viv Nicholson, the 1961 famous Pools winner and author of the book of the same name. The original, starring Rosemary Ashe appeared at the Playhouse before it went onto West End success starring Barbara Dickson. A typical season includes four or five major productions which run for three or four weeks, and a number of one-week or shorter runs which may be by visiting companies. A typical recent season (Autumn-Winter 2007) included: Casanova by Carol Ann Duffy and Told By An Idiot, with Lyric Hammersmith; a stage adaptation of Don Quixote; Brief Encounter with Kneehigh Theatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre; Rough Crossings adapted by Caryl Phillips from Simon Schama's book; Salonika, first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in 1982. There were 6 plays with shorter runs, a visiting production by Northern Ballet Theatre, and two Christmas shows, one for small children and a revived co-production with Birmingham Repertory Company of Adrian Mitchell's dramatisation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The theatre receives funding from Arts Council England (£1,100,000) and Leeds City Council (£820,000), West Yorkshire Grants and Leeds Education Authority. It also encourages corporate sponsorship. The theatre is a member of the European Theatre Convention.