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Red Ladder Theatre Company


Jamie Jones-Buchanan visits Carr Manor School Drama Group

Leeds Rhino’s Jamie Jones-Buchanan recently visited the Carr Manor School Drama Group, who are creating work inspired by our upcoming community project Leeds Lads.

A group of 14 students from Carr Manor Community School have been working on a devising project alongside Leeds Lads and examining the themes of the play. Their 15-minute piece called 104 Questions, will be performed before Leeds Lads on the Carriageworks stage on Monday 20 June at 7pm, press night for the show.

Jamie visited the school to talk to them about the challenges of acting, the character he will be playing and some information about the production. Students were then given the chance to ask Jamie anything they wanted to know about his acting experiences before Jamie himself led them in a warm-up exercise.

Speaking about preparations for the play Jones-Buchanan said: “Rehearsals for Leeds Lads are fantastic. Each cast member moves through the rehearsal with a real focus, like playing rugby, there’s a physical projection in acting and the communication is every bit as important as in a big game.  Every member works hard as an individual for the purpose of serving the team as a whole. The Director, Rod Dixon, like my coach Brian McDermott, has a huge amount of emotional awareness and knows how to produce an environment in which we can thrive as a group…  I am fortunate to be working with an extremely talented and diverse group of men and women.”

Leeds Lads Open Rehearsal at Central Library, Leeds

We recently did an open rehearsal at the Leeds Big Bookend Festival 2016 for our upcoming production, Leeds Lads. The rehearsal finished with a Q&A with our artistic director Rod Dixon and co-writer Anthony Clavane and gave people an opportunity to find out more about the show and the inspiration behind the play.

Breathing life into the characters of Leeds’s past, this vibrant production transports you from the turmoil and tensions of war, to the rich and multi-cultural city we know today. Leeds Lads is a new play about the people of Leeds past and present – their fears, their love and their friendships, performed by the people of Leeds today for the people of Leeds.

A community cast of 40 local performers and musicians will be joined by Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain international Rugby League player Jamie Jones-Buchanan for his debut appearance on stage.





Wanted! Musicians for Leeds Lads

As part of our new community production Leeds Lads we are looking for the below musicians to take part.

Line up tbc but probably:

  • a guitar player
  • bass player (electric/acoustic)
  • drummer/percussionist
  • trumpet player
  • (instrumentation is fairly open/undecided at the moment so all instrumentalists welcome to apply)

Show: Leeds Lads 

Theatre: Carriageworks, Leeds

Dates required (with some flexibility):

  • Three band calls throughout May
  • Two all-day Sunday rehearsals (in May/June)
  • 14th, 16th June for technical/dress rehearsal
  • Shows run from Friday 17th June to Saturday 25th June

Information on show:
It’s 2016. Tara stands on the steps of Leeds Town Hall on the day the city commemorates the Leeds Pals at the Battle of the Somme. She holds in her hand her great grandfather’s medal for bravery. Why should Tara care about the past when the present seems so bleak?

Celebrate Tara’s story as she discovers the sacrifice of her forefathers and how these have moulded the community that surrounds her today. Breathing life into the characters of Leeds’s past, this vibrant production transports you from the turmoil and tensions of war, to the rich and multi-cultural city we know today.

Leeds Lads is a new play about the people of Leeds past and present – their fears, their love and their friendships, performed by the people of Leeds today for the people of Leeds. A community cast of 40 local performers and musicians will be joined by Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain international Rugby League player Jamie Jones-Buchanan for his debut appearance on stage.

This is a community project so, as such, this is not a paid engagement but generous porterage and instrument packages are available by arrangement. It is a tremendous opportunity to work with an experienced and talented creative team and be part of a vibrant and exciting project.

Apply / Contact:
If interested please send your CV/portfolio with a video/recording of you playing to producer Chris Lloyd ( and musical director Sam Sommerfeld (

The deadline is 5pm on Friday 13th May.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan talks Leeds Lads

Leeds Rhinos legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan has taken on a distinctly new challenge recently as he begins rehearsals for Leeds Lads, our new community production commemorating one hundred years since the Battle of the Somme. Here’s what Jamie’s had to say about the process so far:

‘Rehearsals for the Leeds lads has been fantastic.   I’m definitely out of my comfort zone but that’s where I like to be because that’s the only place I will grow.

They say time flies when your having fun and each days work has gone off in a shot.  Rod and the rest of the company have been really welcoming and extremely helpful in something that is completely new to me.  In many ways, the skills and disciplines aren’t too dissimilar to what I go through as a rugby player, some of which are even transferable.

Each member moves through the day with a real focus, like playing rugby, there’s a physical projection in acting and the communication is every bit as important as in a big game.  Every member works hard as an individual for the purpose of serving the team as a whole.  Rod, like my coach Brian Mcdermott, has a huge amount of emotional awareness and knows how to produce an environment in which we can thrive as a group…  I am fortunate to be working with an extremely talented and diverse group of men and women,  and I very much look forward to learning everything I can from them in the next 10 weeks.’

Leeds Lads is on at the Carriageworks Theatre from 17th to the 25th of June. More information available here>>

Leeds Lads Finds Local Talent

Thanks to everyone who auditioned for Leeds Lads, we had a brilliant turn out and have now fully cast the show.  Below are a few short videos to give a taster of how we will be working behind the scenes with Director Rod Dixon, Musical Director Sam Sommerfeld and Natasha Harrison, our Movement Director.


The Damned United – The reviews are in!

The Damned United is receiving incredible feedback from audiences and critics in Derby, after selling out to full houses at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

“…as a piece of theatre it really hits the back of the net.”
British Theatre Guide

 “You don’t need to be a football fan to get fired up by the show” 
★★★★ The Times

 “If you haven’t got a ticket already put it on to your to-do list for today.”
Arts Beat Blog

“The play is ingeniously staged by Rod Dixon,” 
The Guardian

The show is on until 16 April, don’t miss out on your last opportunity to catch us at Derby Theatre this week.


Andrew Lancel & Tony Bell outside Derby Country F.C Pride Park Stadium

Andrew Lancel and Tony Bell outside Derby Country F.C Pride Park Stadium, in front of the Brian Clough and Peter Taylor statue

Leeds Lads Audition Information

Leeds Lads auditions will be held at the following times and places:

Saturday 19th March 09:30 – 13:00 Carriageworks Theatre, The Electric Press, 3 Millennium Square, Leeds LS2 3AD

Saturday 19th March 13:30 – 17:00 Hunslet Hawks, South Leeds Stadium, Middleton Grove, Leeds LS11 5DJ

Sunday 20th March 09:00 – 12:00 Try Zone, Headingley Carnegie Stadium, St Michael’s Lane, Leeds, LS6 3BR

You will not be required to bring an audition piece as the audition will be in a workshop format.

Auditions will run consist of registration followed by a warm up, some ensemble movement and vocal exercises. Smaller groups will be given the opportunity to play any instruments they play, more precise movement and vocal exercises and some short passages to read out.

Please wear casual, loose fitting clothes that you feel comfortable in and bring your own food/water.

It will be fun. It will be instructive. It will be invigorating.

No experience needed but we can only audition over 18’s – sorry!

Rehearsals for Leeds Lads will be Sundays from and including 10 April 2016 from 10am – 5pm for the full cast and then, in addition, Monday and Tuesday evenings for principal characters and band practices.

Leeds Lads Preliminary Rehearsal Schedule

We will need commitment to the whole rehearsal period and then the technical and dress rehearsal period week beginning 13 June 2016 plus the week of shows including the potential matinee on Wednesday 22 June 2016 and the definite matinee on Saturday 25 June 2016.

To apply please fill in an audition registration form and send over to Jenny Sullivan by email:

Download Audition Form

Ever dreamed of being on stage?

Want to see your name in lights?


From the company bringing you The Damned United at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Red Grit is a professionally run actor training course for anyone aged eighteen and over.

  • Try something new
  • All abilities welcome – no experience necessary
  • Meet new people
  • Free – deposit paid at the beginning to secure your place, and refunded to you week by week
  • Guaranteed audition for Red Ladder’s upcoming production Leeds Lads at Carriageworks Theatre, featuring Leeds Rhinos’ Jamie Jones-Buchanan!

Workshops will be run on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Tuesday 15th March to Thursday 7th April in the Phoenix Room at Hunslet Hawks RLFC

Areas covered in the workshops are:

Character building, voice work, movement and working with text

These skills can help to begin a career in acting or simply boost your self-esteem and confidence levels for job/college interviews. It’s a great way to gain new experiences and meet new people

Leeds Lads auditions will be held on Saturday 19th March in the Phoenix Room and at various locations across the city.

Download Registration Form 2016

For more information, email

Ruth Berkoff – Why We Should All Help Save Red Ladder

I want to Save Red Ladder because they have changed my life.


I have always wanted to act, and I pursued it wholeheartedly as a child. But my confidence and motivation faded away with my teenage years. Mum says that it changed when dad died, but at 13, you don’t have incredible self-awareness, and I never noticed that connection at the time. Anyway, I never even missed acting. (Well, apart from finding myself crying during the curtain call in every single production I saw, regardless of its quality, whether I had enjoyed it at all, or even if it had looked fun to be in. I didn’t care. I was always wishing that I was up there with the rest of them, on that stage, performing. Why was I here in the audience, in the dark? Why why why?????????)

Nope, I didn’t miss acting at all.

Life went on. Uni, travelling, gardening, massage, working with older people, whittling wooden spoons, volunteering, co-operative living. The usual.

Then one of my best friends died unexpectedly in 2010, and for the first time in my life, it hit me that one day I would die.

I had always known this to be true, but only then did I properly internalise it.

I lay in bed, feeling my death hanging over me.

It could come at any time.

When you die, I thought, people don’t talk about the things written on your to-do lists. They talk about the things you actually did. And since ‘performing’ had been on my list for, well, basically ever, I decided that it was time to do something about it.

I enrolled on Red Grit (Red Ladder’s incredible FREE actor training course). For 8 weeks, I played games with a room full of interesting, inspiring people. My confidence as a performer, and even as a person, was low, but on that course, we were all treated as equals. A part of me woke up that had been sleeping since I was 13, and the next year, I got a part in Red Ladder’s play, Promised Land.

Woohoo! It’s happening!!! AAAAGH!!!

On the first night, I was saying to myself, ‘This is RIDICULOUS – members of the public, who I don’t even know, have PAID to watch me! I’m a fraud!! I’m not ready… Red Ladder have made a dreadful mistake trusting me. This is stupid.’

Then I heard the cue, and there was nothing for it but to enter the theatre, where members of the public were waiting for the show.

Waiting for us.

 For me.

 And of course I knew what to do. After all, we had done a lot of rehearsing.

Being a part of Promised Land was such a privilege.We were a mishmash of professionals, amateurs, beginners, students, and football fans, which might sound like a recipe for disaster, but it was not.

Red Ladder know how to do some sort of magic.

Right from the start, Rod was very clear that this was OUR play, and we were all invited to take responsibility – “There are no small parts.”

Poor Rod – I really took his words to heart, and one night during the run, I sent him an email with my own personal notes, consisting of no less than 7 points for discussion. As if he wasn’t busy enough. As if his notes, and the other directors’ notes weren’t enough. But somehow, he replied.

I LOVED being in that show – a 5 star production, on at the Carriageworks in Leeds, my home town, for over a week.

And through it all, Rod and the other directors had believed in us. Us idiots.

That is a precious gift to give someone.

It has stayed with me.

My journey since Promised Land has involved a year at circus school in Bristol, and two years at the world-renowned theatre school, Ecole Philippe Gaulier, where Philippe, after someone has done some particularly bad acting, says things such as, ‘Alor… Do you kill her? Do you destroy her, physically, put in a bath with chloric acid, piranhas, and the body of (large student) naked on top of her?’. Said with love, of course… At this school you develop your own sense of belief in yourself, somehow. You have to. And I’m not slating the school, by the way. I knew what I had got myself in for. I wanted it. And I got a lot a lot out of it . An unmeasurable amount. But it was good to know, underneath, that once upon a time, I had been in a Red Ladder play, and people had enjoyed it.

In my two years at the theatre school, I have met hundreds of students, but only ONE other person was from Yorkshire, and he was based in London.

The majority of UK students are based in London, and that seems like the logical place to go, but I don’t want to go to London. My heart is in Leeds. There are also plenty of people in Yorkshire who would love to perform in, and watch, good theatre productions.

Red Ladder is one of the things that give me hope about being back in Leeds. They believe in this city, in the people, and in good theatre. There is no other theatre company around quite like them. They are radical, genuine, fun, and bloody good at what they do. Plus, Promised Land has left me with a network of lovely supportive people who care about good theatre and mutual support. We are ‘The Landers’, and we’re everywhere. No really.

Yes, Red Ladder believed in us. They believed in me. And from Red Grit to Promised Land to being back here where I started, a lot has changed.

I am different now.

Or maybe I’m not.

Is it even important?

Who knows.

Maybe these last 3 years have been pure placebo, and my acting ability is exactly the same.

The point is that now I am actually getting on with that item on my to-do list, and I’m pursuing it again wholeheartedly, and that all came from being believed in.

Ruth Berkoff

Red Ladder is desperate to keep the Red Grit Training Programme going. Any support that people can give the company to keep these training courses alive would be gratefully accepted.

Save Red Ladder Wins Award

The Save Red Ladder Campaign has been rewarded with a PR Superstar Award from Local Giving as part of their Grow Your Tenner Awards.

Over 1,200 groups took part in the Grow Your Tenner scheme last year so it is a fantastic achievement for the campaign to have been recognised as the best at press and PR out of all the groups.

Fundraising campaigns rely heavily on how well they spread the word, involve local people and engage the national press and we at Red Ladder have been blown away by what has been achieved so far.

It has made a huge difference to the organisation and all the support shown makes us more determined than ever to do the work that we do.

We are eternally grateful to both Oli Bentley, of Split (who undertake virtually all of Red Ladder’s art design work both for print and web) and Jane Verity, who has recently left as PR Account Manager with Bonner & Hindley to begin a new and exciting path with Artfinder, for their continued hard work and commitment to the Save Red Ladder Campaign.

We all wish Jane the very best but we will, hopefully, continue working with Jane on Red Ladder projects in the years to come.

For further updates keep an eye on what Save Red Ladder is up to here.