Ilkley Playhouse

BLUE Stockings, by Jessica Swale, which opens this week, centres around a group of young women and their passion for learning: not just their academic studies, but about the world around them.

It is set at Girton College, Cambridge, 1896, in 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.

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.

Blue Stockings runs from July 10 to 20.

Learning is a theme at the Playhouse too, where our popular Greenroom drama classes have run, remarkably, for over 40 years!

Greenroom sets out to teach not just drama skills – which it does, excellently – but critical life skills too: collaboration and teamwork, problem-solving, creative thinking, working to a timeframe.

Past students can go on to do great things – for instance, appearing in Blue Stockings, which after its Ilkley run will then appear at the world-famous clifftop Minack Theatre in Cornwall. Greenroom alumni involved in Blue Stockings include Nicky Mason, a former Greenroom tutor, Lisa Debeney, a current tutor, as well as Damian O’Keefe and Julia O’Keefe, who are esteemed guest tutors.

In the Greenroom classes backstage arts are covered too: stagecraft, set design, make-up, and lighting. Specialist skills such as stage fighting, mask work and clowning are also covered, and received with much enthusiasm by the students!

Greenroom graduates can go on to have opportunities in all these areas. One Greenroom graduate recently enjoyed a major role in the West End: Danny Horn, playing Ray Davies in Sunny Afternoon.

Greenroom activities in 2018-19 included outdoor performances at the Bandstand, showcase sketches at the Christmas Coffee Morning, a sold-out production of Pinocchio, the National Theatre Connections production of Chaos by Laura Lomas, which included a performance at York Theatre Royal Studio Theatre, and many appearances by Greenroom students in our main-stage productions.

Greenroom is re-starting in September – it runs on term-time Saturday mornings – and is taking applications now, you can email for more information. For more information about Blue Stockings, Greenroom classes and all our events visit

by Claire Emmott