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Autumn/Winter season revealed at Ilkley Playhouse

The Incident Room opens in the Wharfeside Theatre in November

Caroline Mutton looks ahead to the Autumn/Winter season at Ilkley Playhouse which runs from September 2023 to February 2024.

Ilkley Playhouse has been producing high-quality drama in our beautiful town since 1928. We are a community theatre tucked away on the banks of the River Wharfe but we are very much at the heart of Ilkley’s thriving community arts scene and in more recent years we have become an accessible cultural hub in the town.

Each season we offer audiences a wide range of excellent and affordable plays: modern dramas, comedies, classics, musicals, farce and productions that the whole family can enjoy. Our Autumn/Winter season, starting in September, five plays will be performed in the Wharfeside Theatre and Wildman Studio, all carefully selected by Ilkley Playhouse’s Casting Committee to suit all ages and interests. Ilkley Playhouse is also a venue for touring theatre companies, musicians, comedians, writers, singers, Ilkley Film Society and art and poetry courses, so in addition to our main plays we have an exciting and varied line up of events to keep you entertained this coming season. You can get your hands on a copy of the Autumn/Winter programme at Ilkley Playhouse, in local libraries, Ilkley Tourist information Office and the Clarke Foley Centre.

Our Autumn/Winter season kicks offs in the Wharfeside Theatre with Laura Wade’s Home, I’m Darling, opening on 14th September. This is a thought-provoking comedy about one woman’s quest to be the perfect 1950s housewife. This funny and charming play received its World Premiere at Theatr Clwyd in 2018, before running at the National Theatre and transferred to the Duke of York’s theatre in the West End, winning the 2019 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. Prepare yourself for an evening filled with jukebox classics and a heavy dose of nostalgia. The play runs until Saturday 23rd September.

On 2nd November a wonderfully compelling real-life crime drama The Incident Room opens in the Wharfeside Theatre. This fast-moving play goes behind the scenes of the hunt for Britain’s most notorious serial killer that nearly broke the British Police Force. The play highlights the failures, prejudices and limitations of policing in the 1970s that enabled Peter Sutcliffe to take the lives of thirteen women and terrorise countless others. The play runs until Saturday 11th November.

You can expect comedy gold from our December production which will hopefully provide audiences with some light relief following the tense drama in the previous play! When the new vicar arrives in the sleepy English village of Dibley, the last thing the locals are expecting is a woman. But the irrepressibly cheerful Reverend Geraldine Granger soon wins over the hearts and minds of her flock. Based on the much-loved BBC sitcom, the stage adaptation brings a selection of the best episodes of this multi-award winning show to our theatre. The Vicar Of Dibley runs until Saturday 16th December.

The Haunting by Charles Dickens and adapted by Hugh Janes is the perfect play for January when the nights have drawn in and we face the depths of winter. This gripping adaptation of some of Charles Dickens’ most haunting works, based on his spine-tingling tales of the unexpected, will have you on the edge of your seats! In an ancient and crumbling mansion, sheltering from the howling winds that tear across the surrounding desolate moorland, two men stumble across a dark and terrifying secret that will change both of their lives forever. Warning: this is not a play for the faint-hearted! The play runs until Saturday 27th January.

Our final production of the season is Things I Know to be True, performed in the Wildman Studio. As beautifully touching as it is bold, the play tells the story of a family and marriage through the eyes of four grown siblings struggling to define themselves beyond their parents’ love and expectations. Parents Bob and Fran have worked hard all their lives and with their four children grown and ready to fly the nest, it might be time to relax and smell the roses. But as the seasons change, some shattering truths emerge, leaving us to wonder whether it is possible to love too much. The play runs until Saturday 17th February.

Fringe productions give our audiences and members additional opportunities to see a wide range of theatre and sometimes to showcase new writing. The first of our two fringe productions of the Autumn/Winter season is Girls Like That running from Thursday 28th to Saturday 30th September in the Wildman Studio. A naked photo of Scarlett goes viral. Rumours spread across smart phones like wildfire and her reputation becomes toxic, threatening to shatter the fragile unity of the girls she has grown up with. But how long can Scarlett remain silent? This is an urgent and explosive play that explores gender equality and the pressures on today’s digital generation.

Our second fringe production is Constellations running from Thursday 23rd to Saturday 25th November in the Wildman Studio. Nick Payne’s beautiful play explores how even the smallest change in our lives can dramatically alter the course we take. It is a spellbinding exploration of love, science, quantum theory and infinite possibility for heartbreak or for hope.

Our popular Stagefright Comedy Clubs continue to feature throughout the Autumn/Winter season, filling the Wildman Studio with laughter on Saturday nights. You don’t have to wait too long for the first comedy club of the season. On Saturday 9th September the event will be frontlined by Phil Ellis, award-winning comedian who has entertained audiences of all ages with his amalgamation of off-beat observational material and physical comedy. Phil has written and starred in three series of his radio sitcom ‘Phil Ellis is Trying’ on BBC Radio 4, nominated for Best Scripted Comedy in the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2020. His TV appearances include Roast Battle, The Russell Howard Hour, The Tez Show and Drunk History. Joining him is Jack Carroll, Britain’s Got Talent runner-up, star of Live at the Apollo, QI, Sunday Night at the Palladium and Trollied. David Walliams describes him as “comedy genius”. Stagefright Comedy Clubs have become a regular favourite at Ilkley Playhouse and showcase the finest comedy acts on the UK and international comedy circuits. Over the years, the club has featured the likes of Joe Lycett, Chris Ramsey, Gary Delaney, Shazia Mirza and Justin Moorhouse. Keep a look out for more details of the Stagefright Comedy Clubs this season on 18th November and 3rd February.

Ilkley Playhouse is hosting a 6-week History of Modern Art course starting on Wednesday 13th September. This course offers a selective introduction to the history of modern art. Each week examines a major movement in twentieth-century art and addresses specific themes, contexts and artists. Sessions are typically divided into two halves, with the first half offering a general introduction to a particular art movement and the second looking at a specific artist or work.

Starting on Thursday 14th September Ilkley Playhouse is hosting a 10-week Poetry and Fiction course focusing on the family. In this course a range of short fiction and poetry about the complex relationships produced by families will be discussed. Literature about family is something all of us can relate to in some form or another. Through reading how writers like Mansfield, O’Connor and Munro convey the lives of their families and the imagined lives of others, we can learn more about our own.

2023 sees Ilkley Literature Festival celebrate its 50th anniversary, making it the second oldest in the country. Each Autumn the Festival brings writers, poets, politicians, actors, sports personalities, historians, scientists and much more to the town. Ilkley Playhouse plays host to a wide variety of the literary events from author talks and panel discussions to poetry performances. The Festival opens on Friday 6th October, finishing on Sunday 22nd October

Our popular Vintage Fair returns on Saturday 28th October, selling stunning fashion and homeware items from the 1920s to the 1980s. Expect to find beautiful fashion for men and women, all type of vintage homeware from the classic to the kitsch. Browse the goods on sale and refuel with delicious savouries and cakes from the tearoom.

Returning to Ilkley Playhouse after a sell-out event last year is Roisin Ban, a Celtic folk trio playing a mix of mainly traditional Irish and Scottish folk songs and tunes. This accomplished, professional band is well respected on the UK folk scene. Join them for an evening of lively music and song on Friday 17th November.

Come along to our Christmas Coffee Morning Saturday 2nd December for some festive cheer and to browse our Christmas stalls. Mingle with old friends and new, enjoy a mince pie and take part in our wonderful raffle.

The Rob Dylan Band returns to Ilkley Playhouse on Friday 23rd February. The band was formed by a group of musicians who bring their own unique and dynamic interpretation to the music of one of the world’s greatest songwriters. Their “Rolling Thunder Revue” show takes you on a journey through Dylan’s most popular songs.

Back by popular demand is the Jon Palmer Acoustic Band on Saturday 24th February. A high energy, 6-piece folk, roots and rock and roll band , they have been described as “a cross between The Pogues and The Oyster Band, with a bit of The Waterboys, The Saw Doctors and the Bruce Springsteen Seeger Sessions Band thrown in.” Accomplished musicians, the band are no strangers to the intimacy of a club setting, the warmth of a theatre or a full-blown festival stage.

Ilkley Film Society is a separate organisation hosted by Ilkley Playhouse. If you are interested in quality films from around the world, what better way to spend a Sunday evening than with other like-minded people in our comfortable and intimate Wharfeside Theatre.

Looking ahead to our Spring/Summer 2024 Season, we have a feast of plays in store including Jeeves and Wooster in ‘Perfect Nonsense’, The Odd Couple, Class, Glorious! and Honour. You can save money with a Season Ticket: buy tickets for all seven Ilkley Players’ Wharfeside productions at the same time and get one free. Save up to £13!

For the latest plays and events please check our website, Facebook page and Instagram account, new information is being constantly added. You can also find out more on our website about hiring our venue, costume and prop hire, our Greenroom drama classes and how you can volunteer with us. To book tickets for all our plays and events visit www.ilkleyplayhouse.co.uk or contact Ilkley Playhouse box office on 01943 609539.

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