West Yorkshire Keeps Director & Unveils SeasonDate: 6 July 2007
The Leeds-based West Yorkshire Playhouse announced their 2007 Autumn/Winter season this week, along with news that current artistic director, Ian Brown, has extended his contract by five years.
Brown, also filling the role of chief executive of the theatre, will now remain at the helm of the venue until 2012. This follows his successful first five years in the job, during which time he “maintained the variety and quality of the programmes and has seen a considerable number of his productions transfer to the West End”, according to chairman of the board Bernard Atha. Brown himself said of the continued partnership, “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to build on the critical and commercial success of the last five years. The Playhouse will continue to produce vibrant, challenging and popular theatre for the widest possible audience”.
In his years in Leeds, he has directed a number of plays, including Macbeth, How Many Miles to Basra?, Alice in Wonderland, Twelfth Night, Pretending to Be Me, and Hamlet. Previously, he was artistic director at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and of TAG Theatre Company at the Citizen’s Theatre.
Meanwhile, rather than reflecting on a productive last five years, the theatre is busy preparing for the next one, unveiling an ambitious and varied line-up of shows. Kicking the new season off will be an intriguing new exploration of the world’s greatest lover, as the venue collaborates with the Lyric Hammersmith and the company Told By An Idiot to present Casanova. Running from 7-29th September, the storyline has been reworked by well-known poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy, and re-imagines the famous seducer as a woman. Paul Hunter directs, and it stars Hayley Carmichael.
A flavour of the Spanish Golden Age comes next, with a new adaptation of the classic tale of Don Quixote. Along with Colin Teevan, it was written and directed by the Spanish-born duo of Pablo Ley and Josep Galindo, who return to the WYP after 2004’s Homage to Catalonia. Between 22 September and 20 October, expect madness and, of course, windmills.
Far from the wilds of La Mancha comes a very British story of forbidden love, in the form of a new staging of Brief Encounter. Made famous by the 1945 David Lean film – itself an adaptation of a Noel Coward play, Still Life, this production is adapted and directed by Kneehigh Theatre’s Emma Rice. Laura Gresson and Dr. Alec Harvey enact their tangled affair from 24 October – 10 November.
Over the Christmas period, there will be two seasonal favourites, starting with the return of 2004’s hugely popular version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, directed by Ian Brown. Opening on 24 November, it plays until 2 February, with a brief transfer to Birmingham Rep. The second family show, directed by Gail McIntyre, is a newly-written version of children’s classic Beauty and The Beast, which promises to entertain younger audiences over the school holidays from 6 December – 12 January.
The New Year ushers in a revival of Louise Page’s 1982 Royal Court hit, Salonika. Playing from 18 January to 16 February, it is billed as an insightful and tender exploration of the universal issues of love, and will be directed by Nikolai Foster.
- by Stuart Denison