Some may think that London is the one and only place for theatre in England, and whilst the West End might be a shining beacon for live theatre it is not the only place with great talent and integrity for the stage. One only need to cast their eyes to the north to gaze upon the Leeds Playhouse, a cornerstone of live theatre and home to a whole host of huge productions and excellent shows.
Not familiar with the theatre? Let us introduce you:
What’s On at Leeds Playhouse
The main event of course, is the theatre that walks through the Playhouse’s doors and graces its stage! The playhouse is home to a variety of excellent theatre, from homegrown productions to touring masterpieces, and these are a selection of what’s coming up soon:
A wonderful production from the Leeds Playhouse team, with direction from Artist Director James Brining, Sunshine on Leith has been delighting the country on a nationwide tour following it’s sensational debut in 2010.
Ally and Davy return home to Leith from the army, but readjusting to life isn’t going to be as easy as they hoped. Families, friendships, life and love are in jeopardy in this funny yet deeply moving tale, featuring the hit music of The Proclaimers like I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) and Letter From America.
Talking Heads (14th June – 23rd June)
Six of Alan Bennet’s iconic monologues will be presented at the playhouse in a celebration of one of Leeds’ best-loved playwrights. Graham, Peggy & Muriel and Susan, Doris & Irene are standalone events; audiences can enjoy one or both, in any order. Witty, poignant and rife with insightful reflections, these two beautiful stories will take place from the 14th of June.
Graham enjoys a safe and uncomplicated life with his dear mother, Peggy is rudely displaced by a mysterious illness, and Muriel is dealing with her wayward son in Graham, Peggy & Muriel, whilst Susan, Doris & Irene deal with marital problems over their belief (or lack thereof) in God, maintaining one’s independence and the pure joy found in writing letters.
Talking Heads will the final production shown in the Courtyard before redevelopment will take place.
Searching for the Heart of Leeds (19th June – 23rd June)
In a collision of music, movement and the words of over 200 Leeds residents, two lost Loiners search for the one thing that makes Leeds, Leeds.
Over 70 talented locals onstage and off, together comprising the Community Company, will be performing real stories gathered from the brilliant city and giving their take on the true heart of Leeds city.
The production is set to be choreographed by the internationally renowned Phoenix Dance Theatre, with live a community band and array of community groups from across the city. Written by the BAFTA Mark Catley and direction provided by Alexander Ferris.
About Leeds Playhouse
Open since March 1990, the Playhouse grew out of the original Leeds Playhouse resting on the southern edge of the university campus, but its history stretches back as far as 1907.
The Leeds Playgoers’ Society formed as an off shoot of the Leeds Arts Club, and began to stage contemporary drama, lectures and discussions on theatre.
By the 60’s, the Arts Council saw the gap in Leeds for a home to modern and contemporary theatre in the city, and set to laying the foundation of that initial Leeds Playhouse in 1968.
Now, the theatre has since relocated to Quarry Hill under the name West Yorkshire Playhouse as part of the major regeneration scheme in Leeds during the 90’s, with Donald Sinden turning the first sod in November 1987 and Judi Dench laying the foundation stone in March 1989.
It’s promising start saw the Playhouse produce 93 of its own productions, garnering a reputation for “imaginative, vivid and progressive work on stage” through their excellent array of Artistic Directors from Jude Kelly, to Ian Brown and the current James Brining.
Today, Leeds is evolving beyond recognition with the new arrival of huge shopping malls and department stores, and Leeds Playhouse is eager to keep up with it. Quarry Hill is due to undergo some serious redevelopment via the Leeds City College and Leeds College of Music library, with Brining saying that “The Playhouse is undoubtedly beginning to show its age. We want to be able to welcome people from our region, our country and from across the world to a home of which we are proud.”
In June 2018, the playhouse rebranded under its old name ‘Leeds Playhouse’ in a move seeking to rejoin the cultural landscape of Leeds itself and further the city as a whole.
The Courtyard is a flexible space with two gallery areas and a stalls, whilst the larger Quarry, laid out like an amphitheatre, means there’s not a bad seat in the house. It’s close, 180 degree proximity to the stage gives the audience multiple angles and a more immersed experience, as well as two accessibility entrances.
Whilst they undergo their redevelopment, the Leeds Playhouse has opened a pop-up location.
How to get tickets
You can see everything the Leeds Playhouse has in store for the next couple months here at TickX, comparing all ticket sellers to get the cheapest available, as well as using our interactive seat maps to pick your favourite seat in the house.
Where is Leeds Playhouse and how do I get there?
Now that you’ve planned a trip out to the Playhouse and locked down your tickets, it’s time to figure out how to get there.
Leeds Playhouse is on Quarry Hill, opposite the bus station in the centre of Leeds, easily accessible by car or public transport.
Leeds City Station is approximately a 20 minute walk away or 5 minute taxi ride.
The Playhouse is located opposite the bus and National Express coach stations.
By Car & Parking
Quarry Hill car park is right next the Playhouse. Blue Badge Holders can park in the car park for free. Disabled parking is also available on Playhouse Square, directly outside the main entrance. These car parks are operated by Leeds City Council and parking is only £3 after 6pm.
The Playhouse also offers discounted parking at the nearby Leeds The Markets – NCP on New York Street. To obtain your discount you need to ask for a voucher at the Box Office. The postcode for your Satnav is LS2 7EA. Please note that this car park closes at 11.00pm.
There is also extensive parking at the new John Lewis in Victoria Gate (only 5 minutes walk from the Playhouse). Parking after 5pm is only £3 and it is open until 6:00am.
Full Address: Leeds Playhouse, Playhouse Square, Quarry Hill, Leeds, LS2 7UP
Where to stay
If you’re travelling from out of the city, Leeds has plenty on offer for those looking for a roof for the night. The closest hotel to the Playhouse is the Ibis Budget just five minutes away, followed by the Holiday Inn Express, Jurys Inn, Travelodge and Leeds Marriott within a 10-15 minute radius.
Alternatively, many now opt for a potentially cheaper experience at a variety of homes on Airbnb, where they can get a lot more flexibility and personalisation from their overnight stay.
Where to Eat
Rather than letting your stomach growl through the performance, make sure to stop in at either the Café, Restaurant or Bar at the Playhouse to fill up beforehand! Their free wi-fi will also give you plenty of opportunity to reply to the last minute emails and check your text before turning your phone or on silent for the length of the show, and if you’re bringing along the kids, don’t worry! There are plenty of high chairs, child menus and bottle warming facilities available.
The bar is open from 5pm on performance days (12pm on matinee days), where you’ll be able to preorder interval drinks and beat the rush, as well as popping in for a post-show nightcap along the way… you may even get to rub shoulders with a few members of the cast!
Stop in at the coffee shop from 2:30pm on performance days to enjoy their range of hot and cold drinks and light food options. Be sure to finish it off with some their delightful sweet and savoury treats, just don’t leave it too late – the coffee shop will close after the last interval of the day!
Open from Monday to Saturday from 9am, the restaurant will be serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner to everyone who’s hungry!
Make sure to get there at least 45 minutes before the performance is due to start, and consider booking a reservation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0113 213 7700 so that you don’t miss out! Although the restaurant makes sure to leave at least 50% of the seating free for walk-ins.
As well as making sure to showcase some of the best theatre in the North, the Playhouse has made bringing more creativity to the local community its prerogative. Through Furnace and their Creative Engagement, the Playhouse makes sure to keep art alive and well for all.
Furnace provides artistic development for local acts as well as furthering the creation of new shows for the stage, citing their mission to “create world class, relevant and compelling theatre and to transform people’s lives by the power and vitality of our work.”
Through their Furnace Social Club, Young Company and Elements workshops, artists an further their skills and make the necessary connections to continue, culminating in the yearly fortnight-long Furnace Festival.
As well as driving to the creativity of local artists, Leeds Playhouse ensures to get everyone involved through their award-winning creative engagement department. Members of the local community regardless of age, circumstances or background can come and get involved in any of their projects, with a huge focus on accessibility for everyone.
The Leeds Playhouse has a big emphasis on making sure theatre is accessible for all, resulting in a variety of initiatives that drive access for the local community.
The Playhouse have joined the Ramps on the Moon consortium, pioneering relaxed and Dementia-friendly performances to enhance their offerings of audio-described, captioned BSL performance, as well as working towards putting more Deaf and disabled actors at the heart of mainstage productions.
Each production is tagged with what access facilities it provides, as well as each theatre season coming with a full guide of upcoming accessible performances.