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West Yorkshire Playhouse announces celebratory 21st birthday season

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The West Yorkshire Playhouse celebrates its 21st birthday in 2011 with Spring/Summer seasonal offerings that are set to be extra special.

At the season launch Sheena Wrigley,General Director & Joint Chief Executive at West Yorkshire Playhouse spoke of the difficulties facing the Arts sector within times of economic restraints: “Our audience's spending priorities have changed. We need to be offering people stuff they can't see on TV; something very different. This season we have a supreme variety; a historical drama, a contemporary 20th century classic, a musical within a community, and something very different indeed...”

Incorporating social themes, the surreal, the strange, the popular and family fun from Peppa Pig (13-16 April), the new season promises both vibrancy and diversity.

Final touches are being put to the birthday celebrations at the Playhouse which promise birthday parties, community events and exhibitions showcasing their extensive archives of props and costumes.

Terrance Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea (18 February – 12 March) is directed by Sarah Esdaile.Describing it as a “...small story with an epic theme and resonance,” Esdailecomments that the challenges faced by women in 1952 when the play was written parallel the relationship dilemmas that modern day women face. Staged in the Quarry Theatre, The Deep Blue Sea serves the audience with an emotional and moving theatre experience in intimate surroundings.

Ursula Rani Sarma's new adaptation of Yerma by Frederico Garcia Lorca runs from 5 to 26 March 2011. Director Roisin McBrinn, won the Quercus Award supported by the Quercus trust and the National Theatre Studio which enables Directors working on smaller productions to make the leap to theatres such as the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Describing it as an: “...epic tale of desire, passion and what happens when we want something too much...” Roisin describes this new adaptation as a re-exploration of feminism within the text and an original reworking of a timeless poetic play.

John Ford's Tis Pity She's a Whore runs from 7-28 May. Director Jonathan Munby commented that this play challenges one of the last remaining taboos in modern society; incest. Addressing a brother/sister romance, Ford's controversial work proves that love will conquer, regardless of the views of society. As relevant in 2011 as it was in its first performance in 1629, Ford presents a corrupt and scandalised world, leaving the audience to make their own moral judgement.

Transform is a pioneering project, to run from 1-25 June, taking the form of a creative cooperative between 5 curators/artistic collaborators, working in an exploratory and imaginative way to find new methods of producing work. Slung Low Theatre's Alan Lane described how the: “...creative process has only just started in this six month project within this provocative agenda.” The only thing we can expect from Transform is to expect the unexpected.

From June 24 – July 16, Director Josette Bushell-Mingoreincarnates the musical of William F Brown's The Wiz. Working with both the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company, The Wiz promises a new spin on this classic story. Stressing that this is not just a “black version” of The Wizard of Oz, Bushell-Mingo describes the production as an “African-American cultural retelling.” However, this adaptation wants to be as 'un-American' as possible, making Dorothy's desire to return home more relevant to the audience. It is for that reason that Dorothy will most likely be a West Yorkshire or Birmingham girl. Open calls are to be held in the new year for this community project which Bushell-Mingo promises will help young people find a positive role model in Dorothy.

The Spring/Summer season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse will celebrate not only its 21st birthday, but the diversity, struggles and challenges that society face in 2011. Despite the financial hardship being encountered by many theatregoers, this new menu proves too tempting a treat to resist.


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