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What's on at Ilkley Playhouse

Caroline Mutton takes a look at what's coming up at Ilkley Playhouse this autumn, starting with a play written by Maxine Peake.

What can be said of our next play Beryl, which opens in the Wharfeside theatre on Thursday 3rd November, is that its main character, Beryl Burton, is quite possibly the most successful woman you’ve never heard of. Maxine Peake’s critically acclaimed funny and heart-warming play celebrates the life of unsung sporting legend Beryl Burton – the greatest woman on two wheels. But her remarkable story has been largely forgotten - until now. When actress Maxine Peake was given Beryl Burton’s autobiography as a gift, she questioned why no one had ever written a play about this remarkable sportswoman, and so she wrote it herself. A childhood bout of rheumatic fever left Burton with a weakened heart, meaning she was under strict medical advice to avoid strenuous activity. What drove her was a fierce determination to disprove every doctor, teacher and employer who said she would never amount to anything. Then she met keen young cyclist Charlie Burton and discovers the thrill and freedom she finds on her bike. It was the beginning of a journey that would see Beryl push herself to the extreme to achieve true sporting greatness. With the unyielding support of her husband and daughter, this tenacious Yorkshire woman overcame serious illness and defied social expectation to become one of Britain’s best cyclists of all time. She dominated the sport throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, becoming the five-time world champion and best British all-rounder for twenty -five consecutive years. Beryl was determined to make her mark on the world and she did. This play is a tribute to her and her remarkable life. Following the matinee performance on Saturday 5th November, Beryl Burton's daughter, Denise Burton-Cole, will take part in a Q and A session. There will be a short comfort break following the performance and the Q and A session should last approximately 30 minutes. The play runs until Saturday 12th November.

We have a wide variety of events lined up in November starting with AbidA – A Feast for the Senses on Sunday 13th November. Based on a traditional North African ritual, the performance consists of seven scenes which present evocations of each of seven colours through dance, sound, text, imagery and fragrance. Seven paintings are projected in turn, symbolising the qualities of white, black, blue, red, green, indigo and saffron with associated moods and emotions. Each scene has its own particular ensemble of musicians and dancers.

On Friday 18th November join Celtic folk trio Roisin Ban for an evening of lively Celtic folk music and song. This is the band’s debut performance at Ilkley Playhouse but this accomplished, professional band is well respected on the UK folk scene, having performed at numerous folk festivals in the UK. Meaning White Rose in Irish, Roisin Ban will be playing a mix of mainly traditional Irish and Scottish folk songs and tunes.

Award winning tribute artist Richard Griffin performs Elvis – The Songbook on Saturday 19th November, singing many of Elvis’ classic hits including My Way, Suspicious Minds, Blue Suede Shoes and many more. So get your blue suede shoes on and join us for a night of all things Elvis.

The Soul Train Experience is back by popular demand on Saturday 26th November to delight audiences with their fantastic renditions of timeless Soul and Motown classics. Climb aboard and take a journey back in time to the sweet soulful years of the 60s and 70s, tributing legendary artists such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder and many more. Soul Train features two powerful vocalists, who together deliver an energetic, flamboyant performance with outstanding vocals and stage presence.

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


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