THIS week the Ilkley Playhouse welcomes the Ilkley Literature Festival. Both our performance spaces – the Wharfeside Theatre and The Wildman Studio – will be busy with many wonderful authors visiting the Festival over the coming weeks. Among others, we are delighted to be the home of the Walter Swan Trust Poetry Prize and Seeking Sanctuary.

The Walter Swan Trust was founded in 2014 in memory of Walter Swan, former manager and Artistic Director of the Playhouse. The Trust promotes creative writing in his memory, and provides opportunities to new writers. Walter wrote poetry, plays, screenplays, short stories and freelance journalism, and published three non-fiction books. Some of his poems can be read on the Trust’s website. He also regularly acted and directed for the Playhouse.

The Trust’s poetry prize allows poets to have their work reviewed by their peers and featured as part of Ilkley Literature Festival. The short-listed poems will be considered by Daljit Nagra, the Festival’s Poet in Residence, and winner announced on Sunday, October 15 at 3.15 pm in the Wildman Studio.

The annual Walter Swan Lecture, meanwhile, presents a major speaker on the subject of arts and access. George Costigan, renowned theatre, TV and film actor - his CV includes Rita, Sue and Bob Too, Happy Valley, Line of Duty, and much more – has written his first novel and discusses his career with Yorkshire Post journalist and Playhouse member Yvette Huddleston. The event takes place in the Wildman Studio on Saturday, October 14 at 3.45 pm.

Seeking Sanctuary is a performance piece by Alan Hall, celebrating Bradford’s long history of welcoming newcomers from around the world, which led to its recognition in 2010 as a City of Sanctuary. Its cast of eight perform diverse poems around sanctuary-related themes including flight from danger, exile and homesickness. The performance takes place at 7.45pm on Wednesday, October 4 in the Wharfeside theatre.

Neither are the Playhouse’s own actors and crew resting on their laurels. After three sell-out performances, by popular demand My Night with Reg is going on tour. Kevin Elyot’s beautiful, funny and important play will visit the Seven Art Space in Chapel Allerton on October 1 and Bingley Arts Centre on the 8th. If you missed this truly brilliant production then book soon, as tickets are selling fast. Tickets can be bought online or by phone directly from the venue.

Next in a busy season, rehearsals are underway for the next Wharfeside production, the comedy thriller Murder, Margaret and Me, by Philip Meeks, which opens in November. The play imagines how the relationship between two successful women, crime writer Agatha Christie and eccentric actress Margaret Rutherford, might have developed. Why didn’t Rutherford want to play the film role of Miss Marple? Why didn’t Christie want noted actress Rutherford to bring her fabled spinster to life?

As the intrigue unfolds, this fictional Christie turns detective to investigate the sadness she discerns beneath Rutherford’s jolly persona. The play was a hit at the New York Fringe Festival last summer, winning both awards and critical acclaim.

Finally, the regular Vintage Fair returns to the Playhouse on October 28 from 10am. Come along for your twice-yearly fix of nostalgic fashion, homeware and enormous slices of cake!

My Night With Reg: October 1 at 7pm Seven Art Space; October 8 at 7pm, Bingley Arts Centre. Tickets available from each venue.

Ilkley Literature Festival September 29 to October 15. Tickets available from the Literature festival website.

Murder, Margaret and Me is at the from November 1 to November 11. Tickets available at or call 01943 609 539.