One of the best things about West Yorkshire Playhouse is as well as putting bums on seats for big productions it also curates the edgy Furnace:Festival offering up and coming artists a platform.

This time Furnace has programmed world premieres by Pauline Mayers and Manic Chord and a script-in-hand reading of Zodwa Nyoni’s new commission directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Artistic Director James Brining.

Lovers of the new work can take in a new project from the award-winning writer and director of Barrel Organ Lulu Raczka and Alasdair Pidsley, an acclaimed children’s show by Wrongsemble and a host of workshops, talks and events.

West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Producer Gilly Roche says: “The Furnace programme is our engine room. It’s where we develop new projects for our stages – from a bright idea for a brand new musical, to a debut play by a local writer.”

Highlights include Furance:scratch on Tuesday 4 October as performers test out raw pieces lasting up to ten minutes Among those sharing work will be Paksie Vernon, Kiruna Stamell, Matthew Allen, Testament and Grace Holliday in October.

On 5 October, Furnace brings you three works-in-progress examining the theme of ‘home’. From Akeim Buck’s evocative exploration of colonialism and transience, Windows of Displacement, to Dan Bye’s light-hearted interrogation of the word ‘security’ and John Hollingworth’s thought-provoking new project A Piece of Here.

Throughout Pauline Mayers’ life, people have made assumptions about her based on her gender, background and race which she explores in her new work What If I Told You on Saturday 1 October. She’s defied these expectations at every turn, tearing up the narrative that society tried to impose on her and this work carefully balances dance and theatre.

Wrongsemble developed a dynamic, fun, mischievous piece of children’s theatre at West Yorkshire Playhouse before a regional tour and a hugely successful two week run at Summerhall at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and they bring it back to Leeds on Saturday 1 October. This flurry of original live music and energetic storytelling, the players re-tell the yarns of Rumpelstiltskin, Goldilocks and Grimm’s Three Wanderers as never before.

Zodwa Nyoni is a fantastic young writer who been nurtured by the Playhouse and Free Verse (Speak Up!) on Thursday 6 October. It’s the tale of Five young poets from Leeds bring their hopes and their fight to contend at the ultimate slam in New York, but before they can find their own voice they have to find a way to hear each other. This coming-of-age story fuses poetry, beat-boxing, rap and drama.

The festival rounds up with the The Economy of Ecology on Saturday 8 October conceived, devised and produced by Manic Chord Theatre looking at grief, human sympathy and the environmental and emotional networks that connect us.


See everything with a Furnace: Festival Pass for £30 (a 50 per cent discount across each show). Limited availability. Individual tickets are also available via box office 0113 213 7700. Book online wyp.org.uk

All words by Paul Clarke. You can find more of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War at his author’s archive.

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