York Theatre Royal Announces Rumours and Rebels Season

Two legendary York characters, Guy Fawkes and the Coppergate Woman, come to life in the Rumours and Rebels season as York Theatre Royal spotlights characters who resist, rebel and stand up to injustice, corruption and persecution.

  • David Reed’s explosive new comedy is about York’s most infamous rebel Guy Fawkes.
  • The Coppergate Woman moves among the people of York, a goddess resisting the havoc wrought by pandemic.
  • In Red Ellen, Ellen Wilkinson urges the UK to stand up to fascism in Germany and Spain.
  • The protagonists of Shakespeare’s Globe’s Julius Caesar worry about power running unchallenged.
  • The love between Selby and Callum in Noughts & Crosses runs counter to the politics of their segregated world.
  • The chimes of freedom flash in The Girl From The North Country.
  • Frantic Assembly’s 21st century Othello faces a barrage of racial persecution.
  • The year ends with Peter Pan joyously standing up to the tyranny of time.

Chief Executive Tom Bird said: “We’re overjoyed to be launching our new season Rumours and Rebels. From Guy Fawkes to the Coppergate Woman to Noughts and Crosses, we’re delighted to bring a season of stunning new work made with and for the people of York, together with a world-class presented programme featuring Frantic Assembly, Ballet Black and Girl from the North Country among many many others. The theatre has always been a place where rebellion thrives. Join us!”

Monty Python meets Blackadder in David Reed’s new comedy The Tragedy of Guy Fawkes (Oct 28-Nov 12). A war-weary Guy Fawkes is plotting a revolution in a cramped room above a pub. Facing bickering, backstabbing and ineptitude at every turn, it’s hardly surprising that Guy soon loses the plot.

York-born David Reed is part of the multi-award winning The Penny Dreadfuls comedy team as well as a comedy performer and writer in his own right.

He said: “I’ve long been fascinated by Guy Fawkes. His designs were diabolical, his end tragic, and yet there’s something very funny about a man whose failures are, 400 years later, still celebrated with fireworks and toffee apples. The state of that. The shame of it! In a daft way, I feel sorry for him.”

The bones of The Coppergate Woman (July 30-Aug 7) were discovered by the River Foss and her skeleton lies in a glass case at JORVIK Viking Centre in the city centre. Now Hull-writer Maureen Lennon brings her back to life in modern day York in the latest community play staged by the Theatre Royal with a local ensemble of 100 local people performing and many more working backstage and front-of-house to support the production.in production.

Maureen Lennon said: “I was approached to write a community project that engaged with York’s Viking history and how stories of our ancestors might bridge the gap between their world and our world right now. What could we learn from each other? It was always envisaged as a project that talked about community, togetherness and the power of storytelling in our societies.”

New work by local artists – poets, performers, singers, dancers, digital artists – is celebrated in Green Shoots (June 7 & 8). The theatre has commissioned work from dozens of professional artists from York and North Yorkshire in this follow-up to Love Bites, the show that reopened the theatre after lockdown. The theme of Green Roots is centred around rebooting post-pandemic and looking to the future of the planet.

Playwright Conor McPherson boldly reimagines the legendary songs of Bob Dylan in Girl From The North Country (Sept 6-10). This heartbreaking and universal story about family and love was hailed by the Observer as the ‘No 1 theatre show of the year’ and by the Times as ‘a show that transports the soul. Incredible ‘.

Susie Blake stars as Miss Marple in the Original Theatre Company’s production of Rachel Wagstaff’s acclaimed adaptation of the Agatha Christie story The Mirror Crack’d (Oct 4-8). Susie was last seen at the Theatre Royal in Murder, Margaret and Me, playing Margaret Rutherford, an actress famous for playing Miss Marple on screen.

Multi award-winners Deafinitely Theatre present the world premiere of Everyday (June 21 & 22), combining British Sign Language and English in the company’s unique style. This new work draws on interviews with women exploring domestic abuse in the deaf community.

In the Shakespeare’s Globe production of Julius Caesar (June 10 & 11), Diane Page brings the brutal tale of ambition, incursion and revolution to life. Frantic Assembly’s award-winning reimagining of Shakespeare’s Othello (Oct 18-22) locates this tragedy of paranoia, sex and murder in a volatile 21st century.

Pilot Theatre brings back its award-winning production of Noughts & Crosses (Sept 16-24), a gripping Romeo and Juliet story by Malorie Blackman and adapted by Sabrina Mahfouz.

Ballet Black (Oct 11) are back with two new works – Black Sun by acclaimed South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma, featuring an original score by Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante (Boy Blue), and Say It Loud, choreographed and directed by Ballet Black’s founder and artistic director Cassa Pancho.

Leeds-based Phoenix Dance Theatre return with a brand new Triple Bill (Sept 30-Oct 1).

York Stage celebrates the 40th anniversary of the sci-fi smash hit musical Little Shop of Horrors(14-23 July) with the company’s first ever appearance at the Theatre Royal. York Opera goes to sea to present Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore (November 16-19).

Sir Willard White, one of the best-loved and most versatile opera stars of the last 40 years reminisces about his life on stage and screen, and sings some of the songs that have been important to him in An Evening with Sir Willard White (June 23).

An Evening with the Reverend Richard Coles and Friends (Sept 1) tells of a life truly and truthfully lived – from sex, drugs and pop stardom to religious epiphany and Strictly Come Dancing.

Doctor Richard Shepherd – Unnatural Causes (Oct 13) has the forensic pathologist reflecting on the cases and bodies that have haunted him the most and also telling how to live a life steeped in death. He has performed over 23,000 autopsies, including some of the most high profile cases of recent times including the Hungerford Massacre and Princess Diana inquiry.

For younger audiences Zog and the Flying Doctors (June 24 & 25) make an appearance in a stage show based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. The same authors best-selling picture book Room on the Broom (Sept 27 & 28) comes to the stage in an Olivier award-nominated show. Sarah & Duck’s Big Top Birthday (Aug 30 & 31) has the BAFTA award-winning Cbeebies show brought to life by the team behind The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Twirlywoos Live.

Dinosaur World Live (June 17 & 18)is an interactive show for all the family with an invitation to join intrepid explorers searching across unchartered territories to find a prehistoric world of dinosaurs. There’s a post show meet-and-greet with the Dinosaurs.

The Rumours and Rebels season also includes the previously announced Red Ellen (May 24-28); Mischief’s Magic Goes Wrong (26 April-May 1); Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming with Mathew Horne and Keith Allen (16-21 May); The Play What I Wrote (June 27-July 2); and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (July 4-9).

Following last Christmas’s smash hit Cinderella, writer Paul Hendy and director Juliet Forster team up again for the swashbuckling family pantomime All New Adventures of Peter Pan (December 2 to January 2).

Priority booking opens to all York Theatre Royal Members on Monday April 4 with Members getting up to 50 per cent off with the Season Ticket offer. General on-sale is from Saturday April 9.