But the Leicester relaunch programme is not confined to the Haymarket itself. Events will also be held at De Montfort Hall, the Y Theatre and the Phoenix Arts Centre in the East Midlands city. It all begins with street performances (running from 26 to 30 August 2004) of Divine, which has been developed with faith communities, the Captured Live, created with young people from the city.
The autumn/winter season has been divided into three 'Series' of work. The first, titled 'Song and Dance', features Singin' in the Rain and, on 24 September, a sister event at De Montfort Hall, Dance Your Heart Out, which gives the public the opportunity to try a variety of dance styles from salsa to bhangra with Cooper and the cast.
Meanwhile, Palace of Fear, a new play by Philip Osment, will be performed at schools across the city from 20 September to 15 October 2004, and two interactive workshops for children, called Myths and Fantasies, will be held in the Haymarket Studio on Saturdays 4 and 18 September.
Series Two, entitled 'Real Passion', begins with two productions running in rep at the Haymarket: Master Harold and the Boys(from 13 October) and To Kill a Mockingbird (from 20 October). Written by South African playwright Athol Fugard, the first is set to be directed by joint artistic director Kully Thiarai. Based on the novel by Harper Lee about a 1935 Alabama lawyer who risks all to defend a black man, To Kill a Mockingbird will be directed by Paul Kerryson.
Other Series Two events include premieres of two new plays: Ray Brown's Living Pretty, which opens on the 6 October in the Haymarket's Studio ahead of a national tour, and 58, a Yellow Earth production about immigration, running in the Y Theatre from 19 to 20 October.
Series Three, entitled 'Imagination', begins with Kerryson's production of CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from 2 December 2004 and continues when Anima Dance bring their version of Dylan Sheldon's The Whale Song to the Haymarket for seven performances only from 8 to 10 December. The final production in the season is a version of Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince, directed by Thiarai, at the Phoenix Arts Centre from 9 to 30 December.
Founded in 1973, Leicester Haymarket has two auditoria: a 750-seat main house and 120-seat studio. Under the leadership of Kerryson, artistic director for more than a decade, the theatre has built up a reputation for high-quality programming, with an emphasis on new writing and productions that cater for the ethnically diverse local community.
In an emergency bid, the theatre closed at the end of July 2003 in order to avert a financial crisis and stem losses which, for the previous financial year, were estimated at £450,000 (See News, 20 May 2003). The resumption of performances in 2004 is part of a business plan which will see the theatre fully relaunch in 2007 as part of a new performing arts centre in Leicester.
- by Hannah Kennedy