History and Northernness are the themes for West Yorkshire Playhouse's spring 2003 season, which includes revivals of Four Nights in Knaresborough and The Accrington Pals and premiere productions of Sunbeam Terrace and Once Upon a Time in Wigan.

The season of in-house productions opens with Gemma Bodinetz's production of Paul Webb's 1171-set Four Nights in Knaresborough, which follows four crazy killers who've fled Canterbury Cathedral after murdering Thomas Becket. Part historical drama and part absurd comedy, Webb's play premiered in 1999 at London's Tricycle Theatre and later embarked on a UK tour starring Nick Moran. The new WYP staging runs from 7 February to 8 March 2003.

It's followed by Rebecca Gatward's revival of Peter Whelan's The Accrington Pals, which moves the dramatic action to First World War Lancashire. The town offered up a fighting battalion of 700 men, over half of whom died or were wounded in the Battle of the Somme. Whelan's drama focuses on the women left at home, anxious for news and reliant on official misinformation. It runs from 21 February to 29 March 2003.

The heady days of Northern Soul from 1973 to 1981 are revisited in Bradford-born Mick Martin's new play, Once Upon a Time in Wigan. The co-production with Manchester's Contact Theatre is directed by Paul Sadot and runs from 11 to 22 March 2003.

Sunbeam Terrace, written by Leeds-based Mark Catley, receives its world premiere with a production directed by Alex Chisholm running from 27 March to 12 April 2003. Set in Beeston, South Leeds, where Catley grew up, the contemporary tale features colourful characters (including a lap dancer and an agoraphobic drug dealer) and strong language. Catley is the first writer to be commissioned by the Playhouse as part of Northern Exposure, the two-year new writing scheme which is a joint initiative between the Playhouse and the BBC.

Running concurrently with the new work on WYP's main stage, the theatre will also hold a Background programme of workshops, seminars and other events for new writers.

- Terri Paddock