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What's on at Ilkley Playhouse

By Caroline Mutton

Ilkley Playhouse opens its doors to the New Year with a spine-chilling, gripping play The Haunting, adapted for the stage by Hugh Janes from the ghost stories of Charles Dickens.

Opening on Thursday 18th January in the Wharfeside Theatre, this play is guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seats! In an ancient, crumbling mansion, two men stumble across a dark and terrifying secret that will change their lives forever. When a book dealer, David Filde, is employed by Lord Gray to catalogue the estate’s impressive library, he finds an incredible array of rare books. However, as a series of strange and unexplained events conspire to keep Filde from his work, he realises that if he is to convince his sceptical employer that the mysterious phenomena he is experiencing is real, they must journey together to the very edge of terror to discover the source of the terrifying visitations. The play runs until Saturday 27th January.


If you fancy learning something new this New Year, then Ilkley Playhouse might be the place to look, offering courses in poetry, fiction and history of modern art. A 10-week poetry and short fiction course starts at Ilkley Playhouse on Thursday 11th January. 1917 was a tumultuous year: a Great War with no end in sight, a bleak cold winter, air raids over London, rain, mud, revolution. Remarkable literature also appeared in 1917, including poems and short stories by pioneering figures like TS Eliot, DH Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, WB Yeats, Siegfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Amy Lowell, among others. Course tutor Dr Robert Hemmings has been teaching, researching, and writing about literature and culture for more than 25 years. He has a special interest in lifelong learning and is very pleased to have the opportunity to read and discuss poetry and other cultural texts at Ilkley Playhouse. The sessions run from 10.30am till 12pm in the Sheridan Suite. The course is £75 for 10 weeks.


If you have ever thought about reading Proust but worried about feeling overwhelmed and intimidated, then this five-week course is just for you. It takes place in a friendly, supportive and encouraging environment where along with Dr Robert Hemmings, you will work through Swann’s Way - the first volume of In Search of Lost Time. Sessions will take place every two weeks from 1pm till 2.30pm starting on Thursday 25th January. The course is £40 for five weeks.


A six-week History of Modern Art course starts on Wednesday 31st January in the Wharfeside Theatre. This course offers a selective introduction to the history of modern art. Eschewing household names, it focuses on major artists who are less well-known.  Each session addresses a specific artist and art movement and its related themes and contexts. Topics covered include Marcel Duchamp and the readymade, Ed Rusha and American Pop, Pauline Boty and British Pop, Helen Saunders and Vorticism, Dorothea Tanning and Surrealism. Each week offers an introduction to an aspect of modern art and will address specific themes, contexts and artists.  The sessions will typically consist of two halves: the first giving a broader overview of an artist’s career; the second a more in-depth discussion of a particular issue or work. Course tutor Dr Simon Marginson is an independent art historian and curatorial researcher. He specialises in twentieth-century art and has published on various aspects of British and European modernism. Sessions will take place every Wednesday morning from 10.30 till 12pm, starting on Wednesday 31st January. The course is £42 for six weeks.


Stagefright Comedy Club returns to Ilkley Playhouse on Saturday 3rd February. The evening will be frontlined by Gavin Webster. Voted ‘Comedian’s Comedian’ in a national poll of his fellow stand-ups, his long list of media credits include Never Mind the Buzzcocks, The Stand-Up Show, Edinburgh Nights, Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning I, Daniel Blake and the Radio 4 sketch show The Show What You Wrote. Joining him is Tom Little, Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year and Edinburgh Festival award nominee. The utterly inventive Tom is a former BBC New Comedy Award finalist with his gut-wrenchingly insightful material and hilariously awkward delivery. His web series Don’t Overthink It has been recently nominated for four awards at the esteemed NYC Web Fest. Also performing is Melina Fiol, one of the fastest rising new acts emerging from the Northwest comedy scene today. Her sharp wit, confident delivery and relatable self-awareness has been disarming audiences across the UK. Beat the Frog winner Kie Carson will also be on stage, a charismatic and endearing performer with thought provoking material. The evening will be compered by the talented Anthony J Brown.


Our final production of the Autumn/Winter season, opening on Tuesday 13th February, is Things I Know to be True, performed in the Wildman Studio. Bob and Fran Price have four adult children, each with their own unique struggles and secrets that that they want to hide. As they try to redefine themselves separately from the hopes and dreams of their parents, Bob and Fran must redefine their relationships with their children and with each other. Funny, poignant and heart breaking, this play explores the dynamics of a family and how they understand truth in the face of tragedy. ‘An intricate, inventive study of family life. Genuinely beautiful’ (The Evening Standard). The play runs until Saturday 17th February. 

On Friday 23rd February The Rob Dylan Band perform in the Wildman Studio. Formed by a group of musicians who share a passion for the music of Bob Dylan, their performance captures the spirit of the Rolling Thunder Revue with exciting and dynamic playing and powerful vocals.

The following night, on Saturday 24th February, The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band returns to Ilkley Playhouse.  Based in Otley, this high energy, folk, roots and rock and roll band is best described as “exploding out of the same box as The Pogues, The Saw Doctors and The Waterboys.” They have a great reputation for finishing off the night in a joyful, energetic and chorus filled way.


To book tickets for all our plays and events visit or contact Ilkley Playhouse box office on 01943 609539.


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