Scheme shares new work by emerging theatre companies

Ballad of the Burning Star by Theatre Ad Infinitum, part of Furnace this weekend. Picture: Alex Brenner
Ballad of the Burning Star by Theatre Ad Infinitum, part of Furnace this weekend. Picture: Alex Brenner
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In the arts world, the tightening of the funding belt is creating a number of problems.

One of the most serious is the threat to theatre makers of the future. The people who will be directing big shows on the main stages of our theatres in the future need somewhere to find their feet – and to find those places they need opportunities and funding.

They also need schemes like Furnace.

The annual collection of work in development returns to West Yorkshire Playhouse this weekend. Not only does the weekend provide theatre makers of the future with an opportunity to make and try out work, it offers audiences the opportunity to see the theatre makers of the future show off their work.

This year Furnace has supported artists David Shearing and Manic Chord Theatre, along with a number of Yorkshire-based theatre makers through its Summer Sublets scheme.

Associate producer Amy Letman says: “We work with a range of artists, theatre companies and makers to develop and present their work. We encourage them to take risks, try out new things, and work with additional collaborators and productions teams to develop ambitious and imaginative work. Our Furnace Supported artists are David Shearing, an immersive theatre artist, and Manic Chord Theatre, an emerging theatre company. Seeing their works in progress during Furnace will provide an early stage insight into the future of these projects.”

Last night audiences saw The Weather Machine, a work in progress. The collaboration between composer James Bulley and Bradford-based writer Kamal Kaan, combined video, sound, text and participation to reveal a theatrical spectacle. It is the sort of work that pushes at boundaries and is given a perfect platform through Furnace.

Manic Chord are a Leeds based company who create physical and lyrical performance. Tonight the company presents a sharing of The News, their brand new production which poses the questions: what is the news? Who really makes it? And for what means?

There will also be performances by Leeds-based artists Ben Mills, Catherine Hawthorn, Jamal Jerald and the Skeleton Project, who have each been involved with the Playhouse’s summer residency scheme. There are also workshops with RashDash and Theatre Ad Infinitum, and tomorrow a creative speed dating session where local artists can meet new collaborators and exchange ideas.

Alongside the Furnace new work activities the Playhouse has programmed a number of bold productions. Playhouse Associate Company RashDash presents its new show Oh, I Can’t Be Bothered and tonight Internationally acclaimed company Theatre Ad Infinitum presents its acclaimed piece Ballad of the Burning Star.

Letman says: “We’ve programmed finished productions by some of the UK’s most bold and interesting companies to provide further inspiration for artists and audiences.

“There is a range of exciting, contemporary performance being developed in the city – this weekend of new work and collaborations provides a snapshot of some of the work happening.”

• Furnace runs until October 11. For tickets and details log on to www.wyp.org.uk or call 0113 2137700.