West Yorkshire Playhouse: What do you want it to be/do?

Alex Chisholm, 4 October 2012

Convened by Alex Chisholm (Me!)
Including among others: Thea Mulder, Beth Knight, Sophie Nutland, Lucy Meredith, Jenniger Granith (?), Alex Wright, Joanna Loveday, Tess Aiks, Tom Wright, Lorna Poustie, Jaye Kearney, Matt Rogers, Emma Osman, Anna Wiseman, Iain Bloomfield, Alice Nutter, Gloria Lindh.

These notes are taken down by me from what was said all inaccuracies and misrepresentations my own.\



We want to know the door is open. That there is interest in work happening in region at different stages.
Places to talk to each other.
Continuity through the organisation - regional work not ‘relegated’ to small spaces and small projects.

Ongoing meaningful engagement with regional artists. At moment you get to a certain level and then have to go elsewhere.
Support for smaller community groups eg rehearsal space, workshops, and masterclasses, advertising, a forum for groups to talk to each other. At moment sense 
of disconnect with Playhouse.

Outdoor theatre - what are the plans for it in the future?
Playhouse is a big ship on the hill - how does it come down into the city. Engagement with street theatre practitioners in the North.\
NOT more of the ‘Central Big Fat Body’ condescending to work with the ‘little people’ ROLES FOR WOMEN - more and better. Steptoe and Son - WTF!
What does the Playhouse want? What does the Playhouse need? It's not clear. Clarity of Mission
Stop the talent drain - make it so you don't have to leave to progress.
No more supernumeraries - all performers on stage should be paid properly.
Don't be tight with costume hire.
Scale of ambition - be the National Theatre of the North again.
Watch This Space up North (National's outdoor space for performance)
To get to the people at the top.
More open forums on a regular basis.
Professional development for performers.
Open casting sessions.
More world class devised work
Flip the balance between traditional and experimental work - more experimental less traditional.
How is the Playhouse different from the Alhambra and the Grand?
Can't be everything to everyone - some people will always be outside.
More open and accessible.
Dialogue with artists.
Complexity of offer.
Playhouse is a supertanker not a speedboat - don't confuse the two.

Furnace to engage with other things like Emerge.
Better planning.
Be clear about it can't do. Managing expectations.
Playhouse part of a number of conversations between development and arts organisations learning from each other.

How do we make a better relationship with Emerge?
Relationship with the community. What's he policy?
Form a different relationship with the audience. Not just economic, but participative. Capitalist model???
To be able to afford to plays. £15 tickets.
Day seats / early booker / just before show. Cheap tickets.
Past 9pm what's happening?
£1 off a pint at the bar with the theatre ticket.
Cheaper bar prices.
Local musicians / DJs.
A bigger commission for street theatre.
Foyer feels like an official space.
More happening in foyer.
Having to be different things.
Space will reflect culture of the building.
How do we make this our home?
Playhouse staff should go on a retreat out of the building.
Who are the staff?
Need to change mentality.
Playhouse in context of Leeds.
What's missing? What can WYP do?
How do we get a culture of live performance?

Example of Bristol Old Vic. Public meetings. Invited everyone to share thought process.
Theatre Bristol made the change happen through open space.
Connecting with others regionally e.g. York Theatre Royal.

Youth theatre filled up very quickly. What else can we offer young people? Workshops, master classes.
Children's theatre to have a regular spot.
How to continue this conversation?

What happens now?
Lack of knowledge about the Playhouse in the city. No big meetings.
More cultural diversity in the programme. Leeds divided into people who come to the theatre and people who never come to the theatre.


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Comments: 1

Liz Wainwright, 5 October 2012

Roles for Women-more and better