Thursday, 29 November 2012
Bradford Playhouse is a 290 seat proscenium arch theatre with circle and stall seating based in Little Germany, in the city of Bradford,
The theatre was founded by an amateur group, the Bradford Playhouse Company, in 1929, renting Jowett Hall – an ex-Temperance Hall previously used as a cinema – as its premises.The Bradford company was an offshoot of the Leeds Civic Playhouse Company, and became independent of its parent in 1932.
Jowett Hall burned down in April 1935. With help from Priestley, who donated royalties from several plays, the organisation bought the site and rebuilt. The new premises, a combined theatre and cinema called the Priestley, was opened by Sir Barry Jackson in January 1937.
The company ran as an amateur theatre, with film showings between plays. The latter continued until 2001, despite losing its status as a Regional Film Theatre a few years before, when the National Museum of Television, Film and Photography – now the National Media Museum took over that role.
On the night of Friday, 19 July 1996 during a run of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, the theatre had another major fire, but the company rebuilt the set in their Studio theatre so that the final show of the run took place.
During the 1996–97 season, although the main auditorium was closed for reconstruction, a full season of plays was presented in the Studio, then on Friday 31 October 1997 the main auditorium re-opened with J B Priestley's An Inspector Calls.
However, public interest in amateur theatre was unavoidably on the wane. By 2003, the theatre's finances had become critical. The current board of directors recommended that the company closed, but a rescue plan was accepted by the membership. The theatre's days as an amateur producing house were over, but it has continued as a receiving house, while the production function was devolved to a new company: Bradford ACT. The same fate met other aspects of its existence, such as its theatre school, became independent of the theatre itself.
Bradford Playhouse relaunched in October 2012, as a multi-disciplinary community arts centre, encompassing drama, music, film, dance and visual arts. The organisation's focus is community-led