Northern Broadsides Announce New Productions

New Artistic Director, Laurie Sansom, today announced his first production for Northern Broadsides will be a revival of J.M. Barrie’s rarely performed farce Quality Street. The production will open in February 2020 in Halifax, the home of Quality Street™ the UK’s most popular brand of chocolates. Barrie’s play was so popular in its day that it gave the chocolates their name.

Phoebe Throssel lives on Quality Street, the bustling hub of a quaint northern town where she runs a school for unruly children.

Ten years since a tearful goodbye, an old flame returns from fighting Napoleon. But the look of disappointment on Captain Valentine’s face when he greets a more mature, less glamorous Phoebe, spurs our determined heroine to action. 

She becomes the wild and sparkling Miss Livy, a younger alter-ego who soon entraps the clueless Captain. As their romance is rekindled, can she juggle both personas? Or will her deception scandalise the town and wreck any future with the man she loves?

This show marks the beginning of a new producing model for Broadsides, with each production being co-created with “creation squads” formed from the local community. For this production, the actors will collaborate with workers from the Quality Street™ factory, developing contemporary tales of hapless love and a live commentary that will frame the action of Barrie’s regency rom-com. As well as providing a modern lens through which to view Barrie’s story, Broadsides also aims to build long-lasting relationships between the employees and their local theatre company.

Northern Broadsides has a long-standing commitment to make bold, radical storytelling that is accessible to all. For the past 27 years, the company has created popular and witty productions in the ‘Northern voice’, and under its new Artistic Director it is reimagining what the ‘Northern voice’ means in today’s world. Sansom was previously the Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Scotland, directing The James Plays trilogy in an unprecedented collaboration with the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain and touring round the world.  Previously he was Artistic Director at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, winning the inaugural Stage Regional Theatre of the Year in 2010, TMA Best Director, and producing a trilogy of new adaptations of classic plays as part of London 2012’s Cultural Olympiad.

The company’s home, Halifax, has recently been billed ‘The Shoreditch of the North’ and is booming with live events, film, food and drink festivals, independent shops and theatre, and has entered the public consciousness through the huge success of Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack and Happy Valley. Two years ago, the extraordinary Piece Hall opened for business, a regency piazza returned to its former glory and now hosting major recording artists and other major events. The region is becoming a must-visit heritage destination and Northern Broadsides is playing a key role in this cultural renaissance. 

Christmas 2019 will also see the company celebrating the festive season with a programme of folk songs and stories drawn from the Broadside Ballads published from the 1600s. Local folk singer Alice Jones will star in the fundraiser at The Viaduct Theatre, Dean Clough, alongside musicians who have been recently granted asylum in Halifax.

Quality Street will tour to Salford, Lancaster, Bury St Edmunds, Liverpool, Newcastle upon Tyne, Guildford, Derby, Leeds, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Scarborough, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull and York. Visit the What’s On page for tickets!




Friends of Northern Broadsides meet new AD Laurie Sansom

On 27 June, the Friends of Northern Broadsides were joined by industry professionals to say hello to Laurie Sansom for the first time in his capacity as Artistic Director of Northern Broadsides. The Evening with Laurie Sansom was an opportunity for the Friends to find out Laurie’s plans for the company and how he intends to honour the past whilst moving the company forwards. They were the first to hear what our Spring 2020 production will be – shh!

Broadsides alumni Cath Kinsella was on hand to quiz Laurie about his theatre career before we opened the questions to the audience. Folk singer and multi instrumentalist Alice Jones provided some wonderful music to close the evening.

We were delighted to see so many friendly faces all cheering Laurie on. Thanks to everyone for coming and to True North Restaurant for showcasing their Northern hospitality with some fantastic canapés.

Stay tuned for announcements on our upcoming productions!



Northern Broadsides to open prestigious Shakespeare Festival in Germany

(Photos by Christopher Krey)

We are delighted to announce that our acclaimed co-production with the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme of William Shakespeare’s glorious tale of antagonistic romance and chaotic comedy Much Ado About Nothing will be opening this year’s Shakespeare festival at The Globe Theatre in the German city of Neuss from the 14-16 June.

The prestigious festival– now is in its 29th year – will run in from 14 June to 13 July and will stage 33 performances of fifteen productions from France, Poland, Hungary, England and Germany. As well as the productions, there will be a Shakespeare Day for children, workshops for school pupils and teachers, and introductory presentations for the seven premieres scheduled to take place in Germany and on NRW radio.

Northern Broadsides Artistic Director Conrad Nelson said:

“As we career into continued uncertainty I take some solace in the knowledge that Arts organisations across European and the words of a 400 year old play can still form the foundations for an effective and enjoyable artistic partnership. Northern Broadsides absolutely delighted to be returning to the International Shakespeare festival in Neuss, with our critically acclaimed production of Much Ado about Nothing. Under the enthusiastic leadership of producer Dr Rainer Wiertz The Globe Theatre continues to flourish. My last visit in 2000 was playing the reluctant lover, ‘Benedick’ in the same play – the memories of which are vivid. In 2019 I return as Director and despite of all, I have no reluctance in hoping that our future cultural liaisons with Europe could be equally as bright.”

Dr. Rainer Wiertz, Artistic Director of the Festival added:

The start of our festival is always a very special event, and we all are eagerly and curiously looking forward to your vibrant, explosive and dashing Much Ado About Nothing. We are very proud that you will participate in this year’s program!”

The Shakespeare Festival, which takes place annually in the early summer, is unique of its kind. Fans of Shakespeare’s dramatic, turbulent, witty plays make the journey to the Rhine from all over Germany and are inspired by the atmosphere. It’s relaxed and uncomplicated and the theatre companies from all four corners of the world contribute to this, bringing international flair to Neuss for four weeks of the year in June and July. 

The Globe Neuss on the Rennbahn is a small-scale replica of Shakespeare’s 1599 theatre. The intimate horseshoe design brings the audience really close to the action, whether their seats are in the stalls or on one of the two raised tiers. A unique atmosphere is created by the lovingly designed ambiance, with its “(Shakes)beer garden” and its inviting foyer contributing to the festival’s very special quality.

The Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre co-production is currently on a national tour and will be visiting in the coming weeks Derby Theatre (26-30 March); Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds (2-6 April); Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield (16-20 Apr), Viaduct Theatre, Halifax (25 Apr-4 May), The Lowry Salford (7-11 May); York Theatre Royal (14-18 May) and Harrogate Theatre (21-25 May).

For more information visit 

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21st century technology to bring Shakespeare’s 16th century drama Much Ado About Nothing to life

Photos by Jenny Harper

21st century technology is bringing Shakespeare’s 16th century drama to life in an exciting new project launched by Northern Broadsides and its partners.
A brand new mobile app provides background information, learning resources and even drama exercises based on Shakespeare’s language and stagecraft. The app runs alongside the current touring co-production of Much Ado About Nothing by Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre. By scanning a map of Messina, where the action is based, students, audiences and lovers of the Bard can “lean in and listen” to the play’s back stories, immersing themselves in an interactive, augmented reality tour of key locations from the play.

As they move around the city through the screen of their mobile device, they can watch videos and listen to music, enhancing their understanding and enjoyment of the production, which is set in the 1940s after World War II. The app, which is available at the Apple and Android App Stores, and augmented reality content are the result of a collaboration between Northern Broadsides, Filament Projects, Stute Theatre and augmented reality specialists ooh-AR.

Further to the new app, actress Sophia Hatfield, who is playing Margaret and a member of the Watch in the show, has written A Muddle In Messina, a new storytelling piece aimed at school children aged 4 – 11, which will play in libraries alongside the tour. The interactive map and performance work in tandem to create a world of music, language and so much more. Everyone who attends A Muddle In Messina will receive a printed map so they can enjoy the Augmented Reality content on their very own devices. A pdf of the map is also available at Download the Much Ado About Nothing AR app, print out the map and put it flat in front of you before scanning it. 

Northern Broadsides Artistic Director Conrad Nelson said

This Spring we tour our critically acclaimed production of Shakespeare’s, Much Ado about Nothing. It’s been my desire to explore the effective marriage between digital content and the live theatre experience and I am delighted to be working with Filament Projects, Stute Theatre and Ooh-AR in launching our first interactive, augmented reality app. This will run in conjunction with the excellent Northern Broadsides on-line education pack written by award winning playwright, Deborah McAndrew and a new live show, Muddle in Messina, written by Sophia Hatfield. This production for 4-11 year olds will tour to libraries across the UK. It is an ambitious project that has received support from ACE and generous donations from trusts and individuals for which, many thanks.

Supported by

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Kay Packwood appointed permanent Executive Director of Northern Broadsides

We are delighted to announce that Kay Packwood, previously interim in her role as Executive Director of Northern Broadsides, has been appointed in the role on a permanent basis. Kay has a long history with the company in various roles and is now thrilled to lead Northern Broadsides through its next chapter in partnership with new Artistic Director, Laurie Sansom.

“Following our recent recruitment process, The Board are delighted to announce the appointment of Kay Packwood as Executive Director. Kay’s passion and vision for Northern Broadsides is infectious and we look forward to the new team leading the Company forward.”  – Rachel Harris. Chair, Board of Trustees. 

Congratulations, Kay!


Laurie Sansom appointed new Artistic Director and CEO of Northern Broadsides

Northern Broadsides is happy to announce that Laurie Sansom will succeed Conrad Nelson as Artistic Director and CEO in June this year.

Laurie Sansom, said about his appointment:

“I’m thrilled to be joining Northern Broadsides at a moment when the companies who champion regional and diverse voices couldn’t be more crucial. I spent many of my years as a young director working at The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough and other theatres across the region, where the work of Northern Broadsides is so valued by audiences and artists alike. The company’s bold and accessible take on classic and new plays has long been at the heart of the region’s cultural life, and I’m looking forward to working closely with local communities and partner theatres to develop its role making popular, radical work that reflects the rich diversity of today’s world.”

Rachel Harris, Chair of Board of Trustees of Northern Broadsides added:

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Laurie Sansom as Artistic Director/CEO. Laurie brings boundless energy, vision and creativity to his work. He shares our vision to build on our position of strength as a producer and leading touring company in the UK. We look forward to an exciting future together. “

Laurie was the Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Scotland 2013-16, for whom he directed The James Plays trilogy by Rona Munro in an unprecedented collaboration with the Edinburgh International Festival and the National Theatre of Great Britain. They were then seen across the UK and in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Whilst in Scotland he also directed his own adaptation of Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat, and The 306:Dawn, a new site-specific piece of music theatre for the 14-18 NOW’s cultural programme to mark the centenary of the First World War.

Previously he was Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate, Northampton where he directed the European premier of Tennessee Williams’ Spring Storm and Eugene O’Neill’s Beyond the Horizon, which both transferred to the National Theatre, London, and won him the 2010 TMA Award for Best Director. He also directed new versions of The Bacchae, Blood Wedding and Hedda Gabler as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, Frankenstein (with Frantic Assembly), The Duchess of Malfi, Follies and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

At the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, he was the Associate Director to Alan Ayckbourn, where he directed over twenty new plays including Villette (with Frantic Assembly) and a season comprising three new micro-musicals.

He has directed for theatres around the UK. His production of Dangerous Corner for the West Yorkshire Playhouse transferred to the Garrick Theatre, West End and he has also made work for the New Vic, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Birmingham Rep, Salisbury Playhouse, The Lyric Hammersmith, the National Theatre, The Bridge, Hampstead Theatre, The Menier Chocolate Factory and the Watford Palace Theatre where he was the Arts Council Trainee Director.

Laurie Sansom’s first production for Northern Broadsides will be in Spring 2020 and will be announced later in the year.

Northern Broadsides Artistic Director and Joint CEO Conrad Nelson will leave the company on the 31st March. His final production with the Halifax based theatre company will be their forthcoming touring co -production with the New Vic Theatre of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The production will run in Newcastle-Under-Lyme from the 8 February – 2 March and then tour till the 25 May.

Leading Yorkshire theatre company Northern Broadsides seek new business partner support

(Rehearsal suite photos by Bruce Fitzgerald)

Award-winning Yorkshire theatre company Northern Broadsides has announced the launch of its new Broadsides in Business programme with information on how local and regional businesses can make the best use of its new and improved venue facilities at their home base, Dean Clough in Halifax.

Following a successful building refurbishment which was completed last year, the renowned theatre company, which tours throughout Yorkshire, is now introducing itself to the corporate market by reshaping the way it works with the business sector. Broadsides has long been involved with local businesses over the last 25 years including longstanding support from Harveys of Halifax.

Pamela Johnson, Northern Broadsides Development Manager said

“The reason that we are launching Broadsides in Business is two- fold. We can’t escape the fact that our new rehearsal studio refurbishment offers a large, flexible space with unique facilities for corporate hospitality, but it is mainly down to better understanding of our assets and market which presents new opportunities for any business partner.”

Northern Broadsides also believes that a refresh of its website and up to date insight analysis on visitors – which tells them who and where their audiences have come from – has made the company a more attractive sponsorship proposition.  With a new exciting Shakespeare production about to go on tour and community education projects in the pipeline, Broadsides are now in a position to talk to businesses who are in search of new and creative solutions to increase their brand awareness, reach new customers, entertain clients or develop and train their staff. Supporting Northern Broadsides would also be an ideal opportunity for a business to demonstrate its corporate social responsibility policy as they would be supporting a local charity right in the heart of the community.

Johnson added:

“Our focus in working with businesses is all about ensuring a return on every pound invested and how we use that pound, not only to benefit the lives of people in our local community but to contribute to Calderdale’s economic success. We want to ensure that businesses we work in partnership with see a demonstrable return on their support to us”.

Northern Broadsides is a unique theatre company with a true northern voice. Their work is characterised by a high degree of theatrical inventiveness and robust performances from a large ensemble cast of multi-talented and charismatic Northern actors who all perform in their natural voices. For the past 26 years, they have delighted audiences here and abroad with a growing classic repertoire which have won them many awards.

If your business would like to discuss working in partnership with Northern Broadsides please contact Pamela Johnson at Northern Broadsides 01422 369704 or contact



Rehearsal images released for Northern Broadsides/New Vic Theatre production of Much Ado About Nothing 

We have released rehearsal images (by Nobby Clark Photography) for our forthcoming touring production of William Shakespeare’s antagonistic romance and chaotic comedy – Much Ado About Nothing.

Six long years of war are finally over. Returning soldiers swap the booming battlefield for a landscape of love, masked balls and much-needed laughter. Two young dreamers (Hero and Claudio) fall head over heels, while two others (Benedick and Beatrice) resume their combative courtship. As faithful friends plot romance and a vengeful brother plans destruction, can true love conquer all, or will whispers and rumour win out? 

Directed by Northern Broadsides’ Artistic Director Conrad Nelson, the production’s excellent cast will feature Richard J Fletcher (Oh What A Lovely War, Oldham Coliseum);  Rachel Hammond (Babe: The Sheep Pig); Sophia Hatfield (When We Were Married, Northern Broadsides); Anthony Hunt (The Commitments, West End and Hard Times, Northern Broadsides); Sarah Kameela Impey (The Tempest, RSC and Pinocchio, National Theatre); Linford Johnson (The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, Park Theatre and War Horse, National Theatre); James McClean (New Tricks, Bolton Octagon); Isobel Middleton (Anna Tregorran in The Archers, BBC Radio 4); David Nellist (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and War Horse,  National Theatre and Sherlock, BBC); Heather Phoenix (The Rivals, Theatre by the Lake); Matt Rixon (Hairspray, UK); Robin Simpson (Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre);  Simeon Truby (The Pitman Painters, New Vic Theatre); Robert Wade (Cyrano, Northern Broadsides) and Andrew Whitehead (An August Bank Holiday Lark, Northern Broadsides).

Much Ado About Nothing will open at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme from 8 February – 2 March and will then tour venues around the UK until 25 May.


Full casting announced for Northern Broadsides/New Vic Theatre production of Much Ado About Nothing 

Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre are delighted to announce full casting for their forthcoming touring production of William Shakespeare’s glorious tale of antagonistic romance and chaotic comedy – Much Ado About Nothing.

The production’s excellent cast will feature Robin Simpson (Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre) as Benedick,  Isobel Middleton (Anna Tregorran in The Archers, BBC Radio 4, Emmerdale and Cracker, ITV and Eric, Ernie and EastEnders, BBC) as Beatrice; Rachel Hammond (Babe: The Sheep Pig) as Ursula; Sophia Hatfield (When We Were Married, Northern Broadsides) as Margaret; Tony Hunt (Hard Times, Northern Broadsides) as Borachio; Linford Johnson (The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, Park Theatre ,War Horse, National Theatre and Showboat, Sheffield Crucible) as Claudio; Sarah Kameela Impey (The Tempest, RSC and Pinocchio, National Theatre) as Hero; James McClean (New Tricks, Bolton Octagon) as Balthasar/Watchman; David Nellist (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and War Horse,  National Theatre and Sherlock, BBC) as Dogberry;  Heather Phoenix ( The Rivals, Theatre by the Lake) as Conrade: Matt Rixon (Hairspray , UK Tour and Around The World In 80 Days, New Vic/Royal Exchange) as Don Pedro; Richard J Fletcher (Oh What A Lovely War, Oldham Coliseum) as Don John;  Simeon Truby  (The Pitman Painters, New Vic Theatre) as Leonato; Robert Wade (Cyrano, Northern Broadsides) as Balthazar and Andrew Whitehead (An August Bank Holiday Lark, Northern Broadsides) as Antonio/Friar.   

Directed by Northern Broadsides’ Artistic Director Conrad Nelson and co-produced with Staffordshire’s New Vic Theatre, the production’s fine creative team includes Lis Evans (An August Bank Holiday Lark) with lighting by Daniella Beattie and musical direction by Rebekah Hughes. 


Robin Simpson to play Benedick in Northern Broadsides and New Vic Theatre co-production of Much Ado About Nothing

Actor Robin Simpson will take over the role of Benedick in our co-production of Much Ado About Nothing, currently in rehearsals. Robin Simpson (See No Evil: The Moors Murders; Waterloo Road; Coronation Street) will step into the role after Reece Dinsdale had to leave the production due to a family illness. We send our very best wishes to Reece and his family at this difficult time.


Conrad Nelson to step down as Artistic Director and Joint CEO of Northern Broadsides

Conrad Nelson joined the Northern Broadsides team in 1992, and after 26 years of service, he will be leaving the company in his current role as Artistic Director / Joint CEO next year. Conrad says:

“It’s been a huge privilege to lead Northern Broadsides over the last year. I’m proud of what the company has achieved since I joined in 1992. Now is the time to hand over the reigns of leadership. Thanks to all for your support. Onwards! Much Ado next spring and then to new adventures”.

We would like to wish Conrad the very best of luck in his future ventures and we will be keeping a close eye on his work.