Wednesday, May 25, 2011




The creative team at West Yorkshire Playhouse is expanding. The recent Action Research development award has enabled the theatre to put into motion plans to augment its artistic team. Artistic Director Ian Brown and General Director Sheena Wrigley have invited a number of new voices to join the creative conversations which inform the theatre's programming and vision. Ian Brown says of the new partnerships…


Broadening the artistic team within the Playhouse brings a host of new and diverse ideas to the theatre. It gives us the opportunity to draw on the knowledge of a number of different people who bring with them their distinct cultural insight and a wealth of artistic experience. These new voices will provide an external challenge to our existing artistic team; it enables us to open out creative conversations and to achieve the greatest artistic impact West Yorkshire Playhouse is able to deliver.


Sarah Esdaile and Nikolai Foster join the Playhouse as Associate Directors at the invitation of Ian Brown. Both directors have made a significant contribution to the work of the theatre, developing and presenting critically acclaimed work such as Esdaile's THE DEEP BLUE SEA and DEATH OF A SALESMAN and Foster's A CHRISTMAS CAROL and ANIMAL FARM. They will be an integral part of the artistic dialogue of West Yorkshire Playhouse bringing with them new artistic projects and programming ideas. Also joining the conversation is new associate producer Amy Letman who is currently developing the Playhouse's new season of work TRANSFORM. Working closely with curators Alan Lane and Kully Thiarai, she is exploring new ways to make and present work at the Playhouse.


Making a move into the building is Unlimited Theatre who will be taking up residence at the Playhouse. Alongside access to office and rehearsal space they will be invited to contribute to the Playhouse's creative dialogue. Cementing ongoing relationships with artists from Slung Low West Yorkshire Playhouse will work closely with the Leeds-based company to explore ways in which emerging and developing artists can be supported by drawing on the facilities and expertise of both companies. Sheena Wrigley comments…


This is an exciting and challenging time for the Playhouse, we are committed to opening up our theatre, our expertise, our resources and exploring new ways to make and create work. An essential part of this is to invite new voices into our creative process to challenge and inspire. We recognise that sometimes we achieve the greatest impact by working in partnership and we are fortunate to have a wealth of very good partners on board.


These artists join a creative team which alongside the Artistic Director, General Director, Producer and Communications Director includes Gail McIntyre (Associate Director Young People) whose work for the Playhouse includes the magical Christmas shows ALADDIN, CINDERELLA, THE SNOW QUEEN and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, developed with playwright Mike Kenny. THE WORM COLLECTOR and FIRST CUT, created with local writers, were developed for schools and toured both primary and secondary schools across Leeds. Tony Award winning sound designer Mic Pool is the Playhouse's Associate Director of Creative Technology, over the past 21 years he has designed the sound for more than 250 Playhouse productions. Mic also works as a video designer.  Alex Chisholm (Associate Director Literary) works closely with Ian Brown on the commissioning and development of new writing for the Playhouse. She has also developed platforms for emerging writers such as NORTHERN EXPOSURE and SO YOU WANT TO BE A WRITER which have helped to launch the careers of writers such as Mark Catley (series consultant on the BBC's BAFTA award winning series CASUALTY) and television writer Alice Nutter.



Sarah Esdaile

Sarah has directed THE DEEP BLUE SEA, CRASH, DEATH OF A SALESMAN and THE GROUCH all at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  She also co-directed Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS with Rachel Kavanaugh (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Birmingham Rep and on Tour).  A selection of other work includes THE LADY IN THE VAN (Hull Truck Theatre and Number One Tour), CLING TO ME LIKE IVY (Birmingham Rep and Tour), LIFE X 3 (The Watermill), THE HORSE MARINES (Drum Theatre, Plymouth), DROWNING ON DRY LAND (Salisbury Playhouse),  KAFKA'S DICK (Watford Palace), JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH (Octagon, Bolton), M.E.N Award Best Family Show 2007, CROCODILE SEEKING REFUGE (Tour),  LYSISTRATA (Arcola Theatre), PICTURES OF CLAY (Royal Exchange Manchester), Young People's TAMING OF THE SHREW (RSC), COMPACT FAILURE (Clean Break, Arcola Theatre and Tour), COYOTE ON A FENCE (Royal Exchange Manchester/ Duchess Theatre, West End), M.E.N Award Best Fringe Production 2004, THE MAIDENS PRAYER (Bush Theatre). Sarah was also an Associate Director at the RSC on Michael Boyd's Olivier-Award winning productions of HENRY VI PARTS I, II and III and RICHARD III.


Nikolai Foster

Nikolai Foster most recently directed the critically acclaimed A CHRISTMAS CAROL for West Yorkshire Playhouse, other credits for the Playhouse include ANIMAL FARM, SALONIKA and BOLLYWOOD JANE. A selection of other work includes MACBETH (Singapore Repertory Theatre, Singapore); GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Tanika Gupta (Palace Theatre Watford / ETT / National Tour); FLASHDANCE (Shaftesbury Theatre, London), HAY FEVER (Chichester Festival Theatre) A SONG AT TWILIGHT (Mercury Theatre, Colchester, Theatre Royal Windsor and National Tour); ABSENT FRIENDS (Oldham Coliseum / Harrogate Theatre), KES, (Liverpool Playhouse & UK Tour); ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR (UK tour); THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (UK tour); LONDON ASSURANCE (Watermill Theatre, Newbury & UK Tour); AMADEUS, (Sheffield's Crucible), ASPECTS OF LOVE (UK National Tour & Nelson Mandela Theatre, South Africa); DEAD FUNNY (Oldham Coliseum & National Tour – Manchester Evening News Award Nomination – Best Visiting Production 2007); He has been director on attachment at the Sheffield Crucible, the Royal Court Theatre and Royal National Theatre Studio.


Amy Letman

Amy studied Drama & Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths College and trained with Fuel Theatre, London Artists Projects and HERE Arts Centre in New York City. She founded and produced the 'Short Nights' festivals at Southwark Playhouse, was a producer for the 24 Hour Plays: Old Vic New Voices, and worked as producer for the site-specific company 19;29. She is now the Associate Producer at WYP, producing the Transform season and developing work with emerging and mid career theatre makers.


Slung Low

Slung Low is the award winning company based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Creating site specific and theatre installations Slung Low have created work with and for a variety of renowned theatre building and festivals including; The Almeida Theatre, The Barbican, The Liverpool Everyman, The Cultural Olympiad, The Lowry, The Gate Theatre, The Imperial War Museum (North) and Liverpool 08 European Capital of Culture. In 2008 they were awarded the Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award and in 2011 voted the Liverpool Echo Production of the Year with Anthology. The company is based in 5 railway arches that have been converted into office and rehearsal space called The Holbeck Underground Ballroom. Slung Low is currently developing; 5 new pieces for a conglomerate of North Yorkshire Festivals for performance throughout 2012; the closing ceremony for the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool to be performed in July 2011 and a musical set on a bus.


Unlimited Theatre

Based in Leeds since 1997 Unlimited is what happens when the artists Clare Duffy, Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe make new work together. This work is always co-created with equal partnership in the creative process. It is always for live performance most often happening in theatres. Increasingly the work is made with a 'cross-platform curiosity' – that is, with a desire to distribute the work in other places e.g. for broadcast and on the internet. As well as regularly presenting work at the Playhouse since 2004, Clare (2004-05) and Chris (2006-07) have both worked as Playwrights in Residence. As a student in the mid 90's Jon worked behind the bar.


West Yorkshire Playhouse 
West Yorkshire Playhouse has a reputation both nationally and internationally as one of the UK's largest producing theatres. 2011 marks the theatre's 21stBirthday and as part of the celebrations the Playhouse presented Terence Rattigan's THE DEEP BLUE SEA, a new adaptation of Lorca's YERMA, John Ford's hard-hitting 'TIS PITY SHE'S A WHORE  and a new season of work titled Transform. This autumn Ian Brown directs the wonderful Tim Pigott-Smith in KING LEAR. Past productions have included the 50th anniversary production of BILLY LIAR; Ian Brown's celebrated staging of AS YOU LIKE IT, the world premiere of William Nicholson's CRASH and the TMA award winning HAY FEVER with Maggie Steed.

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