Ilkley Playhouse

IMAGINE – or perhaps you don’t have to imagine! – having a passion for learning, and the intelligence and academic discipline to back it up.

Imagine having the chance to follow that passion at one of the greatest seats of learning in the world.

Now imagine almost everyone – those around you, as well as society as a whole – telling you that you can’t.

Welcome to late Victorian England, and the world of the Blue Stockings, which is both a derogatory late-Victorian term for female intellectuals, and the title of Jessica Swale’s play about the inequality of the time.

It’s Girton College, Cambridge, 1896, a world in which a woman riding a bike is considered shocking. In a bold, progressive move, women are allowed to attend classes, although not to graduate.

It’s this world that the play explores, with an energetic, vibrant cast and a sort of righteous anger laced with dark humour.

The story focuses on four young women undergraduates, whose academic futures hinge on a vote to decide whether they have the right to a degree or must return home, after glimpsing at what could be, still unqualified and now also unmarriageable.

It’s an entertaining, thought-provoking play featuring a talented cast and brilliant staging: one not to miss this summer. Blue Stockings is on from July 10 to 20.

Also coming up at Ilkley Playhouse we have The Art of Simon on Friday, July 5, which sees Bryan Thomson and Jeremy Woodhead perform the classic hits of Simon and Garfunkel.

Bryan and Jeremy are familiar with the Wildman Studio, having recently performed with us as Jester B.

The Art of Simon bring all the magic and beauty of Simon and Garfunkel’s songs from classics such as Mrs Robinson through to fan favourites such as Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall and Homeward Bound.

Later in July we have more musical nostalgia when Chris Bannister brings us an evening with The Music of John Denver, on Friday, July 26.

Chris captures the spirit of the music beautifully and was honoured to be asked, in 2012, to perform at the annual celebration of John Denver’s life and work, in Colorado. He has also performed several concerts with Steve Weisberg, who was John Denver’s lead guitar player on his great 1970s’ albums. It’s a rare opportunity to see and hear this tribute of such quality from an internationally acclaimed performer on our Ilkley stage.

Both The Art of Simon and The Music of John Denver will make a perfect summer’s evening of entertainment.

For more information about all our productions, please go to

by Claire Emmott