Universities – Leeds included – are considering charging full whack for tuition fees leading to some students, and plenty of parents, questioning the value of a degree in subjects such as English or theatre studies.
These subjects need case studies to show they are not a waste of time – step forward Mike Bartlett.
The Leeds University graduate is back in town, returning to the city with his hit play Love Love Love, on stage at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.
“I came to study in Leeds in 1999 and I saw the Playhouse when it was being run by Jude Kelly. I remember in particular an amazing, brilliant, weird play called Johnson over Jordan with Patrick Stewart. I was always struck by what a huge theatre it was, but how it was also never daunting, it was always a welcoming place,” says Bartlett. “To come back to Leeds with a play at the theatre is a huge thrill.”
The 31-year-old returns to the city of his alma mater as one of British theatre’s hottest young properties. After leaving university, a place key to his development because it “let me really experiment and be free and work out what sort of theatre I wanted to make”, Bartlett landed an assistant director job at London’s Finborough Theatre.
In 2007 he became writer in residence at the Royal Court where he wrote My Child, his breakthrough play. The Royal Court had such faith in the play from this relative newcomer that the theatre reconfigured its main stage into the shape of a tube carriage for the play.
“For the theatre to have such faith was wonderful and filled me with confidence, which was really important at that stage of my career,” says Bartlett.
He followed this with Contractions and in 2009 with Cock, hailed as one of the best new plays of that year.
His latest play, Love Love Love features typical Bartlett motives – characters who are full of wit and venom and whose dialogue crackles.
“It is different in every city because each audience changes the play.
“I can’t wait to see what Yorkshire audiences bring to it.”
Love Love Love, West Yorkshire Playhouse to Apr 9. Hull Truck Theatre May 17 to 21.