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Bradford Playhouse (formally known as The Priestley, The Priestley Centre for the Arts or Bradford Playhouse and Film Theatre - and originally Bradford Civic Playhouse) is a 290 seat proscenium arch theatre with circle and stall seating based in Little Germany, in the city of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The Priestley also has a studio space which has flexible lighting, sound, and seating arrangements.

The Civic was founded in 1929, originally as an offshoot of Leeds Civic Playhouse, but becoming independent in 1932, with J B Priestley named as its President and his stepmother (Grace) and sister (Winnie) were both busily involved, Winnie being the organisation's Secretary.

At first, their premises - the Jowett Hall - were rented, but when that burnt down in April 1935 the organisation rallied round, bought the site and rebuilt, re-opening in January 1937.

The company ran as an amateur theatre, with film showings between plays. The latter continued until 2001, despite losing its status as a Regional Film Theatre a few years before, when the National Museum of Television, Film and Photography - now the National Media Museum took over that role.

On the night of Friday, July 19th, 1996 during a run of Aristophanes' Lysistrata, the theatre had another major fire, but the company rebuilt the set in their Studio theatre so that the final show of the run took place.

During the 1996-97 season, although the main auditorium was closed for reconstruction, a full season of plays was presented in the Studio, then on Friday 31 October, 1997 the main auditorium re-opened with J B Priestley's An Inspector Calls.

However, public interest in amateur theatre was unavoidably on the wane. By 2003, the theatre's finances had become critical. The current board of directors recommended that the company closed, but a rescue plan was accepted by the membership. The theatre's days as an amateur producing house were over, but it has continued as a receiving house, while the production function was devolved to a new company: Bradford ACT. The same fate met other aspects of its existence: from its theatre school (once presided over by Esme Church and alma mater to actors such as George Layton, Gorden Kaye, Duncan Preston and Billie Whitelaw) through to its website, such activities became independent of the theatre itself.

External links

Coordinates: 53°47′38″N 1°44′44″W / 53.79379°N 1.74554°W / 53.79379; -1.74554

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