Looking ahead to an exciting season at West Yorkshire Playhouse
A NEW play from the writer of Gladiator, a Christmas Carol in a new light and a 50th anniversary production of one of Yorkshire’s great plays feature in the line-up of West Yorkshire Playhouse’s new season.
The autumn programme, announced this week ahead of a performance of the Playhouse’s final big show of the present season, Hay Fever, will open in September with a production of Billy Liar.
The Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall play, based on Waterhouse’s original novel, is being brought to the stage by Nick Bagnall, who has previously acted on the stage of the Leeds theatre, but makes his directorial debut with the play.
Scarborough born and raised, Bagnall says: “I have the most exquisite Billy Liar.
“I think there is a rhythm and muscularity in the language which is essentially northern-ness, a sort of roots in your boots quality to the writing.
“It’s about the mundanity of life, and it’s a beautifully tender play that needs serving correctly.”
Bagnall also said it was a privilege to get to direct such a famous Leeds-rooted play, with both writers having been born here, in its 50th anniversary year in what is essentially the play’s home town.
Playhouse artistic director Ian Brown will direct his version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It on the stage of the Quarry Theatre in September. Brown said that the play is coming at an opportune time. “ When it was written there was a lot of unrest in the country and there was much change going on, which is why I think it is appropriate for now,” says Brown.
“The comedies are particularly life-enhancing and there’s something that we need now. In some respects As You Like It is a very sunny play – you can approach it in a very bleak way, but I think we all need to have something to make us smile right now and I feel that this approach is going to give people a good time at the theatre.”
Director Sarah Esdaile returns to the theatre next season, following her triumphant production of Death of a Salesman, which was widely praised.
She says: “It was wonderful the way people reacted to it. I did feel quite a responsibility towards the play, so to have the reaction we had was very gratifying.”
This coming season Esdaile will be in charge of a world premiere, Crash, written by William Nicholson, the man who wrote Shadowlands and Gladiator. He has no qualms about the cut-throat nature of the business, saying when asked why he was premiering his new work at the Playhouse: “They took it.” Nicholson’s reputation, it is suggested, could have secured him an opening of a new play at any theatre in the land. Not so, he insists and anyway he is “delighted that the play will be opening here in Leeds”.
Other highlights include the return of Skipton-born director Nikolai Foster with Bryony Lavery’s version of Christmas Carol and York’s Mike Kenny with his version of Aladdin.
For full season details call 0113 2137700 or log on to www.wyp.org.uk