Autumn 2004 heralds the 40th birthday of the Liverpool Everyman and so the new season - in both the Everyman and Playhouse theatres - celebrates with a series of 'Made in Liverpool' productions. These launch with The Anniversary, starring Sheila Hancock, at the Playhouse. There will also be a companion exhibition and book to which audiences are invited to contribute.

The birthday season in the Everyman reflects the theatres' ethos to create art by and for the diverse Liverpool community. It opens with artistic director Gemma Bodinetz's world premiere production of The Kindness of Strangers by Tony Green. Set in Liverpool, the play links the stories of five very different city inhabitants, and runs from 24 September to 16 October.

It’s followed by another world premiere, Urban Legend, by Laurence Wilson (Surf's Up), from 29 October to 20 November. Directed by Dawn Walton, Urban Legend examines the lives of three generations of men living in a Bootle high-rise. The Everyman Christmas show, running 3 December 2004 to 22 January 2005, is an updated Dick Whittington, written by Sarah Nixon and directed by Mark Chatterton.

Meanwhile, the Playhouse season opens with its own tribute to the Everyman's 40th birthday in The Anniversary. Bill McIllwarith's play - which is described as 'the mother-in-law's revenge' - premiered in Liverpool in 1966 when Hancock played the young daughter-in-law. She now takes the role of matriarch in the new production, directed by actor-director Denis Lawson, and running from 10 September to 2 October 2004.

In October, the Playhouse marks Black History Month with a series of events including Positive Impact's Strictly Dancing (7 to 9 October), Cheryl Martin’s By the Rivers (28 to 30 October) and a special evening of performances to conclude on Sunday 31 October. The Playhouse’s in-house schedule concludes with a revival of the Neil Simon comedy The Odd Couple from 10 December 2004 to 15 January 2005.

Amongst the visiting productions in the autumn season are Kneehigh Theatre's The Bacchae, the Watermill Theatre's production of Pinafore Swing based on Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, Shared Experience's A Passage to India and Oxford Stage Company's production of David Storey's Home.

A celebratory book is planned to coincide with the birthday season. The aim is that it should reflect a range of people's experiences of the theatres - from artistic director, to usher and audience member. If you have a story you'd like to be considered for inclusion, you can email Ros Merkin.

- by Hannah Kennedy