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We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Dowager Countess of Harewood Patricia Lascelles following a long illness. Lady Harewood was the first Patron of Northern Broadsides and a passionate supporter and audience member over many years.

We would like to extend our condolences to the Earl Of Harewood, David Lascelles, her sons Michael Shmith and Mark Lascelles and with her wider family at this sad time.


We are delighted to announce that Conrad Nelson will be taking over the role of Artistic Director and Joint CEO of Northern Broadsides for the next 12 months when Founder and Artistic Director of the last 26 years Barrie Rutter steps down on the 1st April 2018.

Conrad, who has worked with Northern Broadsides since 1992 is currently the Halifax theatre company’s Artistic Development Director and Composer. His directorial debut for Broadsides was Deborah McAndrew’s acclaimed new adaptation of the famous gothic melodrama The Bells (2004), followed by Vacuum by Deborah McAndrew (2006). Since then he has directed a further eleven productions for the company including Blake Morrison’s Lisas Sex Strike (2007) and Accidental Death of an Anarchist (2008) Canterbury Tales, adapted by Mike Poulton (2010) and McAndrew’s A Government Inspector; (2012). He is currently directing Broadsides latest production Hard Times which is touring till late May 2018.

Conrad Nelson said about his appointment:

“I am delighted to be leading one of the country’s most treasured theatre companies over the next 12 months and onto the next stage of its development. From classical repertoire to new works and adaptations, over the last 26 years Northern Broadsides has been synonymous with producing high quality and award- winning drama, with a strong regional voice. We will continue to support the development of new writing and to bring new voices and artists from diverse backgrounds to the stage.

I have been fortunate to have been associated with the company as Director, Actor and Composer for the past 26 years. It has been a wonderful journey so far in partnership with founder, Barrie Rutter OBE and Executive Director, Sue Andrews. As they step down and continue a different path, we thank them for their incredible work in creating a company with a rich and important cultural legacy.

I would like to thank all those who have supported the company to date and recognise the ongoing support of our audiences who continue to show such wonderful enthusiasm, generosity and passion for our work. Our open and honest engagement with audiences across the country has defined our work for a quarter of a century and will continue to do so.

As we move forward we invite audiences old and new to a developing programme of work that acknowledges and respects where we have been.

Broadsides is very much open for business. Onwards.”

On announcing the new appointment Northern Broadsides Chair, Rachel Harris said

As Barrie and Sue leave us it is a time to celebrate a wonderful and successful past and embrace an exciting new future.

The board are extremely grateful that Conrad has accepted to take on the role of Artistic director for the next 12 months ensuring that the Company continues to produce work based in our core values and ‘northernness’.

Conrad’s excellent artistic influence continues to delight our audiences and we look forward to the next twelve months with Conrad at the helm.”

Conrad Nelson will take up his new appointment from 1st April 2018


Northern Broadsides is delighted to announce that their Executive Director Sue Andrews has won the prestigious WGGB OLWEN WYMARK THEATRE ENCOURAGEMENT AWARDS 2017.

The Olwen Wymark Awards, the brainchild of playwright Mark Ravenhill, were set up to give WGGB (Writers Guild of Great Britain) members the opportunity to publicly thank those who had given them a positive experience in new writing over the previous year.

They are named in honour of playwright Olwen Wymark, passionate supporter of WGGB and former Chair of the WGGB Theatre Committee, who died in 2013.

Nominated by WGGB member playwright Deborah McAndrew (An August Bank Holiday Lark and the forthcoming new adaptation of Charles Dickens Hard Times) for her support since Deborah’s first production for Northern Broadsides in 2004.

Deborah McAndrew said: “I have had eight plays produced by Northern Broadsides and Sue’s encouragement and hard work on my behalf has been fantastic throughout. She reads every draft and is unshakeable in her support of the writer.

“Sue’s determination in recent years that all new work for the company should be published has meant that four of my plays have been published by Methuen, including the 2017 production of my adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. I know that Sue was also behind the commissioning of An August Bank Holiday Lark, which won ‘best new play’ awards for me in 2014.

“She has made so much of my work possible from the very beginning right up to the present time and receives little or no public recognition for everything she does.

Sue, who has been with Northern Broadsides since its formation in 1992 will be stepping down from her role as Executive Director later this year.

Sue Andrews said about receiving her award: “I am delighted to be receiving this award. It is always exciting to commission a new play and a joy to see it on a stage but for me, nothing quite beats having the final, published edition in my hand which gives the play a permanence and possible future life. It is a privilege to be a small part in this process and it is only possible in the first place because of the huge and enviable talent of the writer.”

Hard Times

Opened: Viaduct Theatre Halifax – 16-24 February
National tour: 27 Feb- 26 May 2018


Hard Times By Charles Dickens

A new adaptation by Deborah McAndrew (Winner of UK Theatre Award Best New Play – An August Bank Holiday Lark)

Directed by Conrad Nelson
Designed by Dawn Allsopp
Lighting by Mark Howland
Musical director Rebekah Hughes

Touring this Spring, the premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s  witty new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ great Northern novel of repression and longing Hard Times.

Imagine a world where imagination is forbidden. Coketown is such a place. Thomas Gradgrind will not permit fanciful thoughts in his school or his home. But what effect will this policy have on his own children, Tom and Louisa? How can he protect them from corrupting influences – especially when the circus comes to town?

Dark satanic mills, interrupted by the colour and vibrancy of Sleary’s Circus, set the stage for a sweeping tale of suppressed love, seduction and social mores, peopled with the sharply observed exaggerated characters that Dickens is celebrated for.

Playwright Deborah McAndrew said about adapting the classic tale:

‘I’ve always admired Hard Times – Dickens’ one truly Northern novel. The title is a bit off putting, giving the impression of a story that is relentlessly grim. However, it’s full of all the usual brilliant Dickens characters, and lots of very good jokes. It’s also a life affirming story, and a manifesto against a dry, utilitarian approach to education and human discourse in general.

At his school Mr Gradgrind insists on facts and only facts. His pupils and his own children are not just limited, but psychologically and emotionally damaged by the exclusion of the Arts from their education and their lives. In the 21st Century, with our own education system increasingly focused on a core of fact based subjects at the expense of music, drama and art, this tale seems as pertinent as ever – and Hard Times might just as well be called ‘Our Times’.

Director Conrad Nelson added:

Nestled amongst the charcoal-etched towers of Dicken’s fictional Coketown sit the bold stripes of Ringmaster Sleary’s Gilliam-like circus tent. Hoop-la! It is in this vibrant three-ringed arena that we set our play and where we celebrate life, risk, adventure and the power of imagination.

Audiences will meet the characters below a big top where the flames of a circus fire-eater become the flaming coals of the inscrutable young Louise Gradgrind as she stares into the fire, searching for something within herself that she knows is missing, and where the taught line of the tightrope walker becomes the precarious strand of Stephen Blackpool’s happiness between an ill-advised early marriage and the promise of a future with the true love of his life.

In Deborah McAndrew’s witty and imaginative adaptation, we maintain all the humour and pathos of the original novel, presented with a lightness of touch in a clear and fluent drama.

It might be grim up north in Coketown, but this is a place populated by the most colourful personalities that you’re ever likely to meet. Broadsides’ vibrant performance style and musical verve and wit are best suited to deliver Charles Dickens at his popular best. Northern Broadsides – not for gradgrinds.”


Thank you every penny counts in the Arts!

Help us celebrate our 25 Silver Anniversary year with our Limited Edition Silver Plated Boar Badge!

25 Years In Pictures – Copyright Nobby Clark


Northern Broadsides are delighted to announce that actors Sir Lenny Henry CBE, Sir Tom Courtenay, Stephanie Cole OBE, Meera Syal CBE, Sanjeev Bhaskar OBE and playwrights Mike Poulton and Blake Morrison will be joining the award winning Yorkshire theatre company as Patrons.



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