Yorkshire Theatre Newsletter: What's On This Week (Oct 1-7)

Amy Johnson's last flight. Plus -- does Yorkshire exist?

The fuel shortage has come at an unhelpful time for theatres attempting to woo back their audience for the first full season programme since 2019. A bunch of interesting things launch this week, not least the Yorkshire premiere of Lone Flyer which tells the story of 1930s air ace Amy Johnson and her tragic last flight. Amy was a local girl (Hull born and bred) and her plane went down during bad weather over the Thames Estuary in 1941. Hull Truck Theatre, Oct 7-31, £10-£28.50

What’s On This Week (Oct 1-7)

My interview with Eddy Queens (Typical Girls, Sheffield Theatres, to Oct 16, £15-£29, streaming Oct 6, £15) landed on Tuesday but if you missed it you can read it again here.

Yorkshire Theatre Newsletter
Eddy Queens: "I’m so grateful that I put down the crack pipe."
Actress Eddy Queens is not dead and has never been in prison. This is a miracle. She acknowledges as much herself when she says: “I believe things happen for a reason.” It’s not an original sentiment but, in her case, it’s justified. Her backstory goes like this…
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Eddy talked to me about how, with the support of referral services and theatre company Clean Break, she managed to kick drug addiction, reconnect with her family and restart her performance career. It’s well worth a read and if you fancy a second look at the subject, two-decades-clean addict Kate O’Brien is performing Catch 22 Years at Theatre Deli, Sheffield, Oct 6, £13.31-£15.43 (also Slung Low at The Holbeck, Leeds, Oct 9, pay what you can.

Pilot Theatre are touring Northern Girls, a collection of monologues that explore what it means to be one in 2021. Each performance is unique to the location and has been developed, written, and performed by women and girls with direct connections to these places. York Explore Library And Archive, Oct 6-9, £5-£10, St. John’s Burlington Methodist Church, Bridlington, Oct 13-16, £5, TunedIn!, Redcar, Oct 20-32, £5

And there’s more outreach in Donny, where new-writing company Paines Plough in association with CAST have set up camp — literally — in the Market Place for Roundabout 2021. This performance-space-in-a-tent houses children’s theatre, comedy, music and new writing. Oct 1-3, ticket prices vary £3-£8.

In CAST’s main space there’s the spectacular Motionhouse, a dance-circus company whose performances are always an event. Nobody explores the tension between our inner lives and how we make sense of the world around us. Oct 6, £10 & £17

Opera North’s Carmen is at the Grand Theatre, Leeds. with American mezzo-soprano Chrystal E Williams in the title role. Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas is Don José and Edward Dick directs the company’s first new production of Bizet’s masterpiece in over a decade. Oct 2-Oct 28 (in repertoire), £15-£77.50 with some free tickets available for 16 to 20-year-olds and other discount schemes.

Grease The Musical, at Sheffield Theatres, will reliably quicken the pulse of ladies of a certain age. (Like, um, me.) This touring production has an excellent pedigree — it is directed by Leicester Curve’s Artistic Director Nikolai Foster and has choreography by Arlene Phillips. Oct 5-9, £15-55.

Gothic!…

When my brother, a few years ago, set out on his American adventure I was alarmed to discover that he was staying in the region where Washington Irving set his Gothic horror story The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. Upper New York State is a very old part of the Union, rich in history and folklore. Tilted Wig’s version, at York Theatre Royal, stars Coronation Street legends Wendi Peters and Bill Ward and was adapted by former Emmerdale writer (and old friend) Philip Meeks. Oct 5-9, £15-£27

A recurring element in Philip’s work is popular entertainment refigured into something darker and more serious. The one-woman show Harpy at Hull Truck Theatre, which he also wrote, stars National Treasure Su Pollard as a woman who can’t let go. Oct 2, £17-£26

Hard on the heels of Ralph Fiennes’s eye-wateringly expensive solo show reading TS Eliot’s long poem The Waste Land, here comes another version — equally as intriguing but much, much cheaper. Independent arts space Seven Arts in Leeds is hosting The Centenary of T S Eliot’s The Waste Land And Kazi Nazrul Islam’s Bidrohi. Directed by T M Ahmed Kaysher, the production combines acting, live music and theatrical reciting of the two seminal poems. Oct 7, £7 & £10

At Middlesbrough Town Hall we have Sessions, a Paines Plough and Soho Theatre production in which Ifeyinwa Frederick explores masculinity, depression and therapy. Oct 4, £8 & £11, also CAST Doncaster, Oct 5, £10.50 & £12.50)

And at Bradford Playhouse there’s one of those grassroots efforts I so admire: Falling Star Theatre’s Recall, an immersive production set in the 1980s and written and produced by former drama teacher Rebecca Durham. Oct 1, £8 & £10

Streaming…

The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield have done it again: An ambitious streamed production of a new play in association with a consortium of regional theatres (Oxford Playhouse, The Dukes Lancaster and The Watermill). This one’s called Going The Distance and tells the story of a small community theatre struggling to keep its doors open through the lockdown year of 2020. It has been co-written by LBT artistic director Henry Filloux-Bennett and Yasmeen Khan, who collaborated earlier this year on the LBT’s streamed production of The Importance Of Being Earnest. A topnotch cast includes Sara Crowe, Nicole Evans, Shobna Gulati, Sarah Hadland and Merch Husey. Oct 4-17, £15

If you want to find out more about how this inter-theatre collaboration works, and has evolved a new hybrid artform, check out my interview with Henry from way back in March:

Yorkshire Theatre Newsletter
“When we closed… we didn’t have enough money in the bank to see us through. We could have paid April’s wages… but we wouldn’t have been able to pay May’s.”
The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield has had a good Covid. But it needn’t have turned out that way. “When we closed,” says artistic director Henry Filloux-Bennett, “we didn’t have enough money in the bank to see us through. We could have paid April’s wages for everyone, but we wouldn’t have been able……
Read more

News & Resources

Know someone who wants to act but is put off by fear of prohibitive drama school fees? Leeds Actors in Training (LAIT) is a studio-based vocational programme for young people, aged 18-25 years, to challenge and develop their performance skills alongside industry-leading professionals. The year-long course is run by Lizi Patch, Artistic Director Young Peoples Theatre, plus professional working artists, and you can find information on the Leeds Heritage Theatres’ website. (Deadline Oct 15)

Booking Now:

This week sees local performers take to the stage at the reopened Howard Assembly Rooms. Open Doors (Oct 6, free) takes in live turntablism, soul and gospel-infused songs and traditional South Indian music as NikNak, Thabo and Vijay Venkat each perform a 20-minute set.

There are still a few tickets left for The Tiger Lillies: Love For Sale on Oct 9 (£10) as they deliver a twisted take on Cole Porter’s classic songs. The following day American mezzo-soprano Sandra Piques Eddy and Dutch baritone Quirijn de Lang tackle The Great American Songbook. (They are currently taking the lead roles in Bernstein’s Trouble In Tahiti on Opera North’s mainstage). Oct 10, £10.

Looking ahead from this preview weekend, the Howard Assembly Room’s Autumn/Winter season features folk band Leveret, saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Courtney Pine playing Duke Ellington and Nat ‘King’ Cole, Cleveland Watkiss and many more.

Finally, a couple of times recently I’ve found myself on late-night Zoom calls explaining to fellow Substackers what ‘Yorkshire’ is. (“No. It isn’t in Nottingham…”) To my embarrassment I discovered I wasn’t sure myself. It’s a distinctive geographical region that doesn’t map easily onto other factors, such as local government. But this YouTube video by North Londoner Jay Foreman taught me everything I needed to know. Provocatively subtitled Does Yorkshire Exist? it comes with a trigger warning: It’s so funny, you might disappear down a Jay Foreman rabbithole. Don’t click the link if you have writing to do. Just don’t.

Liz x

PS My cough has eased off now.