Formed in 1945, Leeds Arts Centre is an award-winning amateur theatre company. Over the years we have produced a wide variety of productions, from Shakespeare and the classics to modern plays and new writing. We currently stage around four productions each year at the Carriageworks Theatre in the centre of Leeds.
In addition to acting and directing, our members are encouraged to get involved with all areas of backstage work including production and stage management, design, scenic construction, costumes, props, sound, lighting, publicity and front of house. Alongside the main productions, our green room arranges other events for members, such as productions of short plays, play readings, workshops, theatre visits and other social activities.
We are a member of the Leeds Community Arts Network – a group of theatre, musical, opera and writing companies based in Leeds and the surrounding area – and the National Operatic and Dramatic Association. We’re also part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages project, and in 2016 represented Yorkshire in ‘Dream 2016’ when six of our members successfully auditioned to perform as the mechanicals alongside RSC actors in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Our members range in age from eighteen to eighty-plus, and we have a strong core of both younger and older members from a wide range of backgrounds. New members are always welcome, and you don’t need any experience to join us.
Members are entitled, and encouraged, to take part in all of our activities throughout the season. There’s no audition to join, but all acting roles are cast through an open audition process.
If you would like to try your hand at theatre but don’t feel ready for the main stage, you can participate in one of our green room productions – which include sketches, workshops and performances of short plays. These provide an opportunity for new or inexperienced members to learn about all aspects of theatre work – on and off stage – without committing to a main stage production.
Green room productions also provide a showcase for members to experiment with all kinds of drama which would not necessarily be suitable for the main stage. All new directors are required to direct a green room show before directing a full-length play, although our occasional Directors’ Workshops – where aspiring directors have the opportunity to direct a series of short plays, mentored by more experienced directors – also provide an alternative route to the main stage.
In addition, the green room team organises play readings along with other social activities, like parties and theatre trips, which our members can take part in.
Rehearsals for our productions usually take place in the Carriageworks. They generally start between 7.00pm and 7.30pm, and last for a couple of hours or so. Most productions have a rehearsal period of about six to eight weeks, with rehearsals taking place on three or four nights a week; rehearsal periods for green room productions are usually a little shorter.
The productions themselves are usually at the Carriageworks Theatre, either in the main space or in the studio upstairs. They run for up to a week, with evening performances normally starting somewhere between 7.00pm and 8.00pm and the occasional Saturday afternoon matinee. Cast and crew usually need to be available from around 6.00pm until maybe 10.30pm throughout the whole production week.
Leeds Arts Centre is run by a committee of members which is elected every year. The group is a registered charity whose aim is to promote the appreciation of and participation in all aspects of theatre arts, and is funded by the money that we make from ticket sales and membership subscriptions, along with other fund-raising activities.
If you would like to be a part of us, find out how to join!