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West Yorkshire Playhouse changes name to Leeds Playhouse ahead of £15m redevelopment

Artist's impression of what the Leeds Playhouse will look like. Photo: Page Park Artist's impression of what the Leeds Playhouse will look like. Photo: Page Park
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West Yorkshire Playhouse has announced that it will now be known as Leeds Playhouse, in a move the theatre hopes will better reflect its community and promote its city.

The change means the theatre will be known under the same name it had when it first opened as a temporary space in 1970.

It comes ahead of the theatre’s 50th anniversary and as it prepares to undergo a major £15.8 million capital redevelopment project, which will transform the theatre’s entrance, improve access and add a new studio as a third performance space.

It is the first significant work the building will have undergone since its construction in 1990.

Artistic director James Brining said the renaming marked a new chapter in the theatre’s life, as well as reflecting a desire to make its geographical location clearer on a national and international platform.

He said: “We just want to be clear and accurate. We’re not in West Yorkshire, we’re in Leeds. When I go around places, people don’t realise that, and while we’re not stepping away from our commitment to our artists and audiences from across West Yorkshire, we are proud to be from Leeds.”

Brining added that he also sought to put Leeds on the map as a cultural destination.

“Leeds has some amazing cultural assets, but we punch below our weight. Of the great companies in this city – the likes of Opera North, Red Ladder, Northern Ballet, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Slung Low, Interplay – none of them features the word Leeds.

“Part of our job is to spread the message that Leeds is this dynamic, vibrant place, and having that in our name is a way of helping us to do that,” he said.

The building’s two theatres are now closed for the duration of the redevelopment works. However, the playhouse will continue to produce work throughout. This will be presented at a pop-up theatre constructed in a workshop space on the existing site, as well as at venues across the region.

An ensemble company of 10 northern actors will join the theatre for a year to perform in many of its forthcoming shows, which include Jim Cartwright’s Road, a co-production with Opera North titled Not Such Quiet Girls, Debbie Tucker Green’s Random and a gender-swapped Hamlet.

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