ILKLEY Playhouse is not only a place that provides quality entertainment; it’s also a place where you can learn alongside others, and we have two new courses starting in the New Year for you to enjoy.

On Thursday 11th January a 10-week poetry and short fiction course starts. 1917 was a tumultuous year: a Great War with no end in sight, a bleak cold winter, air raids over London, rain, mud, revolution. Remarkable literature also appeared in 1917, including poems and short stories by pioneering figures like TS Eliot, DH Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, WB Yeats, Siegfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Amy Lowell, among others. Course tutor Dr Robert Hemmings has been teaching, researching, and writing about literature and culture for more than 25 years. He has a special interest in lifelong learning and is very pleased to have the opportunity to read and discuss poetry and other cultural texts at Ilkley Playhouse. The sessions run from 10.30am till 12pm in the Sheridan Suite. The course is £75 for 10 weeks.

If you have ever thought about reading Proust but worried about feeling overwhelmed and intimidated, then this five-week course is just for you. It takes place in a friendly, supportive and encouraging environment where along with Dr Robert Hemmings, you will work through Swann’s Way - the first volume of In Search of Lost Time. Sessions will take place every two weeks from 1pm till 2.30pm starting on Thursday 25th January. The course is £40 for five weeks.

Opening in the Wharfeside Theatre on Thursday 18th January is The Haunting. Adapted for the stage by Hugh Janes from the ghost stories of Charles Dickens, this is a gripping thriller from the literary master of suspense. Dickens was fascinated by the spirit world and dabbled in the occult himself, and these factors are present in the story. Set in the mid-nineteenth century, the play centres around the super-natural happenings which begin when Filde comes to stay at Lord Gray’s ancestral home where he has been hired to catalogue Gray’s father’s antique book collection. As a series of strange and unexplained events begin to unfold, so the tensions between Filde (who vividly experiences the events) and Gray (who remains determinedly sceptical) grow more intense. Whilst Filde becomes more convinced about what he sees and hears, Gray becomes more antagonistic to the prospect of the supernatural. So, fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride… The Haunting runs until Saturday 27th January.

Stagefright Comedy Club returns to Ilkley Playhouse on Saturday 3rd February. The evening will be frontlined by Gavin Webster. Voted ‘Comedian’s Comedian’ in a national poll of his fellow stand-ups, his long list of media credits include Never Mind the Buzzcocks, The Stand-Up Show, Edinburgh Nights, Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning I, Daniel Blake and the Radio 4 sketch show The Show What You Wrote. Joining him is Tom Little, Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year and Edinburgh Festival award nominee. The utterly inventive Tom is a former BBC New Comedy Award finalist with his gut-wrenchingly insightful material and hilariously awkward delivery. His web series Don’t Overthink It has been recently nominated for four awards at the esteemed NYC Web Fest. Also performing is Melina Fiol, one of the fastest rising new acts emerging from the Northwest comedy scene today. Her sharp wit, confident delivery and relatable self-awareness has been disarming audiences across the UK. Beat the Frog winner Kie Carson will also be on stage, a charismatic and endearing performer with thought provoking material. The evening will be compered by the talented Anthony J Brown.

Our final production of the Autumn/Winter season, opening on Tuesday 13th February, is Things I Know to be True, performed in the Wildman Studio. Bob and Fran Price have four adult children: Pip, Mark, Ben and Rosie. Each child has his/her own struggles and secrets that they try to keep hidden from their parents, but Fran has a knack for knowing what is true in each of their lives, whether it is an unhappy marriage (Pip), heartbreak (Rosie), redefined sexuality (Mark) or drug use (Ben). As the children try to redefine their lives separately from the hopes and dreams of their parents, what is real and genuine in the Price family falls apart under scrutiny, and Bob and Fran must redefine their relationships with their children and with each other. Funny, poignant and heart breaking, Things I Know to be True examines the dynamics of a family and how they understand truth in the face of tragedy. The play runs until Saturday 17th February.

Ilkley Gazette: Rob Dylan BandRob Dylan Band (Image: submitted)

Our first musical event of the year takes place on Friday 23rd February with The Rob Dylan Band. Formed by a group of musicians who share a passion for the music of Bob Dylan, their performance captures the spirit of the Rolling Thunder Revue with exciting and dynamic playing and powerful vocals.

The following night, on Saturday 24th February, The Jon Palmer Acoustic Band returns to Ilkley Playhouse. Based in Otley, this high energy, folk, roots and rock and roll band is best described as “exploding out of the same box as The Pogues, The Saw Doctors and The Waterboys.” They have a great reputation for finishing off the night in a joyful, energetic and chorus filled way.

To book tickets for all our plays and events visit or contact Ilkley Playhouse box office on 01943 609539.