Leeds Playhouse today announces a dazzling and diverse Spring/Summer 2022 Season celebrating both the intimate and epic shared moments only theatre can produce. From thoughtful small-scale pieces to bold major productions, the season will showcase a combination of classic plays, powerful musicals, bold new voices and reimagined favourites designed to bring a sense of rejuvenation as we head into a new year together.
Spring/Summer 2022 at Leeds Playhouse focuses on:
Diversity – Compelling new versions of classic stories and entertaining reimagined musicals celebrating diversity in its widest form
Collaboration– A range of bold and ambitious work created with both local and national partners
Reconnection– Offering a safe and enjoyable way for everyone to reconnect with the unique joy of live theatre
“This season is a thrilling culmination of all the work we do, both on stage and off. We have worked hard to present a season that reflects, inspires and entertains the communities we serve,” said Artistic Director James Brining. “We take great pride in producing and presenting a diverse range of shows across a variety of scales in our brilliant theatre spaces as well as out in the community. This deeply rooted ethos is part of what makes us who we are – and is a key element of our new season.
“From small-scale pieces that share emotive stories to large-scale spectacles that deliver excitement and entertainment for all the family in a safe and welcoming environment, we remain passionately committed to providing an inclusive and accessible spectrum of inspirational, challenging, captivating and engaging shows throughout our Spring/Summer 2022 Season.”
Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy MACBETH (26 FEB – 19 MARCH), directed by Leeds Playhouse Associate Director Amy Leach (Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, There Are No Beginnings), will be staged in the Quarry theatre and will include integrated audio description. Tachia Newall will star as Macbeth in this visceral and vibrant production that explores the corrupting effects of power. As well as showcasing classic Shakespeare, the production also aims to ignite a collective passion for the Bard and live theatre among young people.
Director Amy Leach said: “Macbeth is one of the most thrilling plays ever written, and I am delighted to be staging it in our Quarry theatre next season – an epic play for an epic space. I can’t wait to collaborate again with the talented Tachia Newall who I know will make a superb Macbeth, and to welcome audiences to share in this visceral new production.”
With laugh-out-loud comedy and fantastically catchy songs, SAY YES TO TESS (24 MARCH – 2 APRIL) is a true story of activism, Yorkshire grit and learning to vote for yourself. This new musical, which was due to open last year, was supported by Furnace, the Playhouse’s Artistic Development programme. Written and directed by Leeds artist Tess Seddon with original songs by former Playhouse Composer in Residence Harry Blake, it will play in the Bramall Rock Void ahead of a national tour.
April will see the Playhouse’s Courtyard theatre taken over by the rock musical HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2 – 23 APRIL) a co-production with HOME. Directed by Jamie Fletcher (Dancing Bear), it will feature Yorkshire’s own divine drag queen Divina De Campo in her first leading role as Hedwig, a genderqueer performer pushing back against binary norms. Featuring a live rock band, this is a must-see musical that calls for us to create a world where people are free to be themselves and no one polices sexuality, gender identity or gender expression. Text by John Cameron Mitchell, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Trask. Presented by arrangement with JOSEF WEINBERGER LIMITED.
Director Jamie Fletcher said: “I’m really excited to be bringing to life this iconic rock musical with other queer, trans and non-binary creatives. I can’t wait for audiences to see a powerful genderqueer character leading the show with humour and ferocity accompanied by an awesome live band. I am thrilled to be teaming up with Divina De Campo – we have a long history of working together and I know Hedwig is the perfect role for her. It’s exciting to be able to tell this story now; it’s a very timely story for anyone who’s ever felt different, for anyone who has felt they’ve had to hide a part of themselves or felt they’ve had to look or behave in a certain way in order to be accepted.”
After being brought to an untimely close by the pandemic in 2020, Leeds audiences are now being given an opportunity to see the new play – MAGGIE MAY (7 – 21 MAY) – by award-winning writer Frances Poet in a co-production with Leicester’s Curve and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. This extraordinary play directed by Jemima Levick, is about an ordinary Leeds family balancing the challenges of daily life while living with dementia. The production was inspired by the Playhouse’s award-winning Creative Engagement programme. It was originally commissioned in 2018 as part of Every Third Minute, an innovative festival of theatre, dementia and hope curated by people living with dementia and their supporters. The play signifies a strong commitment by each of the venues to creating new, positive work about people living with dementia.
Directed by Leeds Playhouse Associate Director Sameena Hussain and designed by the Playhouse’s Resident Designer Warda Abbasi, I WANNA BE YOURSis a tender, funny and vibrant play by award-winning slam poet Zia Ahmed. It explores the knotty intricacies of sustaining a relationship across contemporary cultural divides through intimate fleeting moments, awkwardly comedic family encounters and achingly familiar arguments. The production will run in the Bramall Rock Void this spring with tickets on sale in January.
Director Sameena Hussain said: “I am genuinely giddy to be directing I Wanna Be Yours – Zia’s brilliant and beautiful words tell us a very common love story which is rarely presented in this way. Through the lens of a love story, our attention is drawn to issues that affect us all and Zia tells it with such care and empathy. That is what drew me to this play, the duty of care and questioning towards its audience. I am thrilled to be working alongside Warda, who is exceptional. Both of us are very excited to be telling this incredible story.”
This May, the Playhouse will stage the UK and European premiere of Claudia Rankine’s THE WHITE CARD (24 MAY – 4 JUNE). Directed by Northern Stage’s new Artistic Director Natalie Ibu, the play, which was written in 2019 prior to the murder of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, poses the question: can society progress when whiteness remains invisible? It follows the interactions between a talented Black artist and a rich, privileged white couple. A co-production between Leeds Playhouse, Northern Stage, Birmingham Rep, and Soho Theatre, in association with HOME.
Leeds Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining will revive A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (1 – 16 JULY) in a co-production with Opera North after wowing audiences and critics alike in 2021. Fuelled by a strong on-going partnership between the two Leeds organisations, this heartfelt, witty and romantic production features music and lyrics by the late great Stephen Sondheim at the height of his powers and book by Hugh Wheeler. The production features members of the Opera North Orchestra and Chorus as well as featured artists including the legendary Dame Josephine Barstow.
Throughout the season, artists from Leeds Playhouse will co-create eight short pieces of theatre with members of the public celebrating the city and its resilience throughout the pandemic. BUT I GET UP AGAIN takes its inspiration from the neon Chumbawumba quote on the side of the Playhouse building and will culminate in performances in both the community and at the Playhouse during the summer. In July, the Playhouse will proudly hand over its building to the people of Leeds for OPEN SEASON, showcasing the very best community performances the city has to offer. The full programme will be announced in late spring. The award-winning Creative Engagement team will also tour a new family-friendly production to venues across the city, delivering theatre on people’s doorstep. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the Playhouse continued its work with over 12,000 people through PLAYHOUSE CONNECT, a series of projects addressing four critical areas: Isolation and Loneliness; Mental Health and Wellbeing; Reconnection and Recovery; and Skills and Training for Young People. This work continues to support the recovery of the city with regular in-person and online activity.
The new year brings a flurry of opportunities within FURNACE, the Playhouse’s Artistic Development Programme, including a major new training project in collaboration with Sheffield Crucible and Ramps on the Moon to support 24 deaf and disabled artists; a new producing course in collaboration with Papatango; the culmination of the Discovery Programme with Kali Theatre to develop female identifying writers of South Asian descent; and artist intensives exploring a range of disciplines including movement direction and design.
Each of the Playhouse’s three auditoriums will host visiting companies for Spring/Summer 2022, highlighting the breath and scale of the world class theatre being made across the country. The sensational roster of productions includes: Phoenix Dance Theatre’s 40 YEARS OF PHOENIX, an eclectic selection of work by internationally acclaimed, award-winning choreographers, including former Artistic Directors and collaborators, to celebrate the Yorkshire company’s milestone anniversary; THE SH*T by Kenneth Emson, directed by Leeds Playhouse Associate Director Alexander Ferris and created in response to research and consultation with youth workers and young people in London and Leeds; for families, ZOG & THE FLYING DOCTORS, THE GRUFFALO and PEPPA PIG’S BEST DAY EVER; KALI SHOWCASE, a series of script-in-hand performances of four striking short plays by newly discovered female writers of South Asian descent from Leeds and beyond; Yorkshire Dance and Partners’ FRESH 2022, a vibrant collection of work by youth dance groups from across the county; the return of Northern Broadsides – a firm favourite with Leeds Playhouse audiences – in a co-production with New Vic Theatre of AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare, directed by Laurie Sansom; and THE HILLS ARE OURS, presented by ARC Stockton in association with Leeds Playhouse, by award-winning Daniel Bye and Chumbawumba founder member Boff Whalley.
Please note this link will expire on 1 Jan 2022.
Press Night Diary
Macbeth: 3 March 7.30pm
Say Yes To Tess: 25 March 8pm
Hedwig and the Angry Inch: 6 April 7.45pm
Maggie May: 11 May 7.15pm
The White Card: 26 May 7.30pm
A Little Night Music: 6 July 7.30pm