THE story of West Yorkshire Playhouse began with a grassroots campaign for a new theatre that would enrich the lives of men, women and children across Leeds.
And so it is surely only fitting that the people of the city have been chosen to take centre stage in another landmark moment for the Playhouse this summer.
Searching For The Heart Of Leeds will be the final production at the site’s Quarry Theatre before the start of a £14m redevelopment project in July, it was announced yesterday.
Inspired by more than 200 real-life stories from the city and featuring six community choirs, it will follow a ‘lost Loiner’ as she tries to pinpoint the essence of Leeds.
Director Alexander Ferris said: “The Playhouse has always been a theatre for the people. The fact that it exists is down to the people of Leeds rallying round and calling it into being.
“This project is the next exciting stage in the development of that central idea and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been doing with the city. We’re expecting every performance to feel like a big Leeds-themed party.” Last Saturday, May 5, marked 50 years since campaigners held a meeting at Leeds Town Hall with the aim of securing a professional repertory theatre for the city.
The eventual result was Leeds Playhouse, which opened on the edge of Leeds University’s campus in 1970 following widespread public support and backing from famous faces such as Peter O’Toole and Keith Waterhouse.
It changed its name to West Yorkshire Playhouse when it moved to its present home at Quarry Hill in 1990.
Searching For The Heart Of Leeds runs from June 19 to 23. Talking Heads, the final production being staged in the Playhouse’s Courtyard Theatre before the redevelopment, runs from June 14 to 23. A 350-seater pop-up theatre will operate at the Playhouse site during the redevelopment work.