From the beginning it was clear that the new West Yorkshire Playhouse was going to be more than just a performing space. In the first 6 years of operation the Playhouse produced 93 of its own productions encompassing classics and contemporary British and European drama, modern theatre from around the world and had implemented a vigorous new writing policy.
Ian Brown succeeded Jude Kelly as Artistic Director in 2002 and brought with him a commitment to continue the vital and established role that the Playhouse was playing in the community. Under his leadership the Playhouse maintained its pioneering community engagement work and gained a reputation for the quality and mix of its work.
Following Ian’s departure in 2012 he was succeeded by James Brining. Although Leeds-born, James arrived via Richmond and Dundee. With new-found vigour the Playhouse continues to develop and expand on the vision of Vital Theatre.
The Playhouse has two theatres, the Quarry with 750 seats and the smaller, more flexible Courtyard with 350 seats. However its reach goes far beyond those two spaces; over the 2015 autumn season its work will be seen in over 60 venues from village halls (Beryl on tour) to Wales Millennium Centre (Sweeney Todd). In recent years plays have been taken out into the local community with Little Sure Shot and Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads being presented in community centres around the city.
51 years on from Doreen Newlyn’s notice to the Arts Council and 25 years on from the opening of the new building, the Playhouse remains as strong as ever, producing great theatre for, and by, its communities in the heart of the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire and the UK.