Sunday, 5 June 2011

Celebrating 21 Years of the West Yorkshire Playhouse

Hello. A lot of you will just know me as the busy culturemouse I am, but I have other jobs, too. I also work here














...at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. And this month, the finest theatre in the North celebrates its 21st birthday, with a programme of events called "Transform". It runs for two weeks starting on Monday with a mixture of plays, workshops, spontaneous collaborations and free flowing imagination all across the building, with an aim to show just how transformative a theatre can be and just how amazingly versatile and special the Playhouse really is.

I thought I'd explore the programme a little bit, and highlight some of the top performances and shows we're showing for our birthday. If you're in the area do come along and support us - special wristbands are available at £15 each (£10 discounts) and will get you into all events on that day. The closing cabaret night is at a fixed £16. There's also plenty of opportunity for the audience to get involved as well, so if you're a budding thespian or writer come along and be inspired. It promises to be an intriguing and novel fortnight of fun!



The Ionian Enchantment: Theatre group Peepolykus (Spyski!) will be present throughout the two weeks, inviting people of all ages and experience to direct, write and act in new performances - a new one every day. The theme will be science, anything and everything from the Big Bang to virtual realities. There are lectures too - on the 6th, 8th and 14th at 7pm. This is the one of the biggest gateways to get involved in the Transform festival.
Performances every day of the festival, at the Box Office level

21 Writers: every year the WYP runs a writing course for the best young new writers to develop their talents. This year the 21 writers were set the task of creating their own three minute plays, and the fruits of their work will be on show on the 6th where they are all performed live for the first time.
Tues 6th June, 6.30pm, The Courtyard

Simple Girl: Melanie Wilson is a "mischievous flaneur, epic sentimentalist and grandiose fibber" and she brings her 2007 Edinburgh Fringe show to the WYP for two nights of adventure, mystery, humour, physical theatre and a vintage microphone
Weds 7th & Thurs 8th June, 8.15pm, The Courtyard

The Book of Politics: audiences and members of the public will be invited into The Red Room (no, not something out of Twin Peaks, although how awesome/traumatising for the rest of your life would that be?) to voice and pen their opinions on what kind of society they would like to live in - producing a book of the idyllic reality.
Fri 10th & Sat 11th June, all day, The Red Room

Story Map: What I Heard About The World: one of the most ambitious projects of Transform is the attempt by Third Angel to collect a story from every country of the world and place it correctly on a map, with the help of the audience, to create a living portrait of the world.
Sat 11th June, all day, Bar/Cafe area

Handbag: performer Geraldine Pilgrim will ensure the thought of dancing around your handbag will never seem the same - 15 minutes of carefree swishing your hair fun.
Sat 11th June, 3.30pm. 4pm, 4.30pm & 5pm, The Courtyard

Open House: a unique chance to follow a new performance from start to finish. Chris Goode & Co will be taking up residence in the Playhouse to put together, from scratch, a brand new play in a week. Throughout the process the doors to the rehearsal studio will be open to anyone wearing a Transform wristband to come in and observe, give feedback, suggestions and ideas to the cast to help them on their way. And don't forget to come back for the finished performance at the end to see how it all works out!
From Mon 13th June during the day every day, final performance Fri 17th June 7.45pm, Box Office Level

Tales of the Raun Tree Band: musician Dom Coyote (Kneehigh) presents his dark, folksy musical theatre piece about a lost boy who is trying to find his way back to the Summer. Told through music, but in his own words "the antithesis of a musical." Anything macabre and described as a bit like Efterklang and Punchdrunk Theatre (It Felt Like A Kiss) gets my attention (luckily I'm working this one!).
Thurs 9th & Fri 10th June @ 9.15pm, & Tues 14th June, 8.15pm, The Courtyard

6 Degrees Below The Horizon: Leeds based troupe imitating the dog perform their new piece for the WYP crowds who view the show through windows and moving picture frames. Anything with the words "playful", "twisted", and "vaudeville" and I'M THERE - could this be something like The Terrible Infants, but for a more adult clientele? 
Weds 15th & Thurs 16th, 8.15pm, The Courtyard

Shelley: come and see a preview of the WYP's new show about the life of Frankenstein writer Mary Shelley - months before its run in 2012!
Weds 15th, 6.15pm, The Quarry

Folk in a Box: imagine the most intimate gig you've ever been to and then laugh. Folk in a Box is the world's smallest music venue: a box comprising of you - and only you - and a musician who performs you one song. Then the door opens, and the next audience member files in for their own gig. It's exhilarating for every participant involved!
Fri 16th June, all day, at Box Office level

The Wau Wau Sisters: The Last Supper: and for something a little different a bit naughty, New York's finest burlesque dancers the Wau Wau Sisters present their uniquely hilarious, cheeky and over the top drunken version of the Last Supper. Be as thrilled as you are shocked, this ridiculous and bawd duo have won over the crowds at the Edinburgh Fringe and across the world. They will also be taking part in Transform's closing cabaret night - if you just need to see them again!
Fri 16th June, 9.15pm, The Courtyard

Smoke and Mirrors Cabaret Night, featuring: Bourgeois and Maurice, Horse, Hope and Social, Tim Sutton, The Wau Wau Sisters, design by Streamline 21, dress up in Steampunk Victoriana and get happily dizzy on canapes and cocktails!
Sat 18th June, from 7.30pm, various (over 18s only)



... it all sounds like a mini intense Edinburgh Fringe, doesn't it? Lovely. You can see the full programme here, or pick one up from the Playhouse when you come in.

And if that's whet your appetite, why not come along and see the next big show at the Playhouse: The Wiz, which runs from 24th June to the 16th July? It has that girl from The X Factor who can't spell her name in it, playing Dorothy. A fabulous musical about one of the greatest stories ever told.



Hope to see you there, folk and folkettes!


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