Ilkley Playhouse

AS we announced last week, following the latest Government advice about the coronavirus, Ilkley Playhouse is unable to bring you any plays and events at the moment but what we can bring you is hope. Hope that this current situation won’t last long and that at some point we can return to normality and start doing the things we enjoy again outside the home! So we are delighted to share with you our programme of plays for season 2020-21 and you can once again put dates in the diary and make plans to visit our theatre again with friends and family.

We are thrilled that we have been able to squeeze Frost/Nixon into next season’s programme. Rehearsals were already well under way for this play, scheduled to be performed next month but our Artistic Director has managed to incorporate it into the forthcoming programme, albeit for a shorter run. We had to fight hard to persuade the author and his agent to allow us the rights to perform this play so we feel very fortunate to be able to include this in our programme and it is definitely not one to be missed. The play, first performed in 2006 is written by screenwriter and dramatist Peter Morgan, whose writing credits include ‘The Queen’, ‘The Last King of Scotland’ and ‘The Damned United’. The play is based on the true story of how David Frost approached Nixon’s office to be given the exclusive right to interview the disgraced President Nixon in the wake of his resignation after Watergate. Whether you know anything about the Watergate scandal or the history of the Frost/Nixon TV interview, this play is a must-see, exposing the vanity of politics, corruption and power. Frost/Nixon will run in the Wharfeside Theatre from September 21st to the 26th with a matinee on the last Saturday.

From November 5th to the 14th All My Sons by Arthur Miller will be performed in the Wharfeside Theatre. This powerful and classic play examines the relationships between families and the nature of guilt and responsibility. It is based on a true story of industrial neglect which led to the death of many pilots in World War Two. All My Sons had a huge impact when it was first produced in 1947, yet it is as fresh, exciting and relevant now as it was back then.

Our Christmas production Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and adapted by Phil Willmott will be brought to you by our talented Greenroom students. This is the first adaptation of Treasure Island with both male and female performers. This will be a rollicking, timber-shivering production, including audience participation, swordfights, a little dance and some sea shanties. You can consider it a pantomime as much as a play and it will be perfect for the family. The play runs from December 10th to the 19th in the Wharfeside Theatre.

Kicking off the New Year we bring you the beautiful Goodnight Mr Tom. Now a modern classic, Michelle Magorian’s wonderfully uplifting tale is brought to life in this magical stage adaptation by David Wood. Set during World War Two, the story follows young William Beech who is evacuated to the idyllic English countryside and forges a remarkable and heart-warming friendship with the elderly recluse Tom Oakley. All is well until William is suddenly summoned home to his mother in London. This play will inspire audiences and bring generations together. The play runs from January 21st to 30th in the Wharfeside Theatre.

The first of our Wildman productions The Children by Lucy Kirkwood will be performed from February 9th to the 13th. Kirkwood’s engrossingly topical play becomes a controlled experiment. When three retired ex-colleagues reunite after 38 years, their emotional reactions to each other take them straight back to their shared pasts, when they worked as physicists developing their nearby nuclear power plant. It is a play in which personal intimacies and social duties collide and the responsibilities of the old for future generations are explored.

Following the success of Jessica Swale’s Blue Stockings which Ilkley Playhouse performed to sell-out audiences last summer, you now have the opportunity to see another Jessica Swale favourite – Nell Gwynn. This play is one of the most performed plays of the last five years and is a rollicking piece of theatre! Set in London in 1660, King Charles II has exploded onto the scene with a love of all things loud, extravagant and sexy. At Drury Lane, a young Nell Gwynn is causing a stir. Big laughs, big costumes, big songs, big fun! The play runs from March 11th to the 20th in the Wharfeside Theatre.

We are delighted that we have been able to reschedule June’s musical Singin’ in the Rain. With fabulous costumes, well-known musical numbers and fizzing choreography, this is a feel-good production for the whole family that will leave you humming those famous tunes long after you’ve left the theatre. The musical runs from April 6th to 17th.

Our summer production is the brilliant comedy Blithe Spirit. This play really needs no introduction. Written in 1941 by Noel Coward, it is a wonderfully witty and scrupulously engineered comedy that was originally created to distract the public from the horrors of World War Two. The play runs from June 3rd to the 12th in the Wharfeside Theatre and then at the Minack open-air theatre in Cornwall in July.

Aside from our main plays, we have two fringe productions lined up for next season. Fringe productions often bring new writing to Ilkley Playhouse. Usually led by new directors, there is a special, fresh energy around fringe events. The first of our fringe events is Picnic at Hanging Rock, a new play adapted by Tom Wright from Joan Lindsay’s classic novel. Five modern schoolgirls tell the story of the day when in 1900, three girls and their teacher disappeared into thin air while on a school day trip to Hanging Rock in the Australian Outback; never to be seen again. Sound scary? The Guardian says “it will terrify the pants off you!” The play runs from May 3rd to the 8th in the Wildman Theatre.

From July 8th to the 17th we bring you our second fringe event The Cracked Pot by Blake Morrison. Based in Skipton in 1810, this funny, earthy and satirical play concerns Judge Adam, Skipton’s sole agent of Justice. He awaits with anxiety a visit by Walter Clegg, a Georgian style Ofsted inspector. A trial is overseen between the formidable Martha and her daughter’s fiancée Eve who has ‘cracked her pot’. The plot thickens, grievances are unearthed and what was Eve doing last night? With shades of Chaucer’s Millers Tale and set against the construction of the Leeds Liverpool Canal this will be a night of historical hilarity. First performed by Northern Broadsides, this play comes with authentic local dialect.

So there is plenty to look forward to at Ilkley Playhouse from September and until then, we wish you the very best. We will continue to communicate any changes or updates to you via our website and on our Facebook page.

Caroline Mutton