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Of Mice and Men at West Yorkshire Playhouse

John Steinbeck’s literary epic is re-imagined in a striking new staging.

Rehearsal shot of Henry Pettigrew as George. Photographer: Jonathan Keenan.

Associate Director Mark Rosenblatt makes his directorial debut for the Playhouse with his sharp exploration of Steinbeck’s timeless story of loneliness, isolation and hope, created for the vast Quarry stage. Rosenblatt collaborates with Avant-Americana musician Heather Christian, who was commissioned for this production following her involvement as a leading creative in the National Theatre Shed’s multi award-winning Mission Drift. The New York-based musician composes an original live soundscape for this classic play and performs in the role of Curley’s wife, joining Henry Pettigrew and Dyfrig Morris as George and Lennie and a supporting cast of actor-musicians. Of Mice and Men launches the Playhouse’s season of classics boldly explored for their resonance today

George and Lennie are migrant workers, one smart, the other strong, drifting from town to town across the vast dustbowl of California. Together they’ve cooked up a plan to escape, saving their nickels to buy a small farm of their own. But when they’re hired on a ranch close to the Saladinas River, their dream slowly and unexpectedly unravels.

Joining West Yorkshire Playhouse as Associate Director, Mark Rosenblatt is formerly Studio Associate at the National Theatre. His most recent production Stuart: A Life Backwards premiered at the Edinburgh Festival and was shortlisted for the Carol Tambor Best of the Festival Award, before touring nationally. He has directed productions in a wide range of theatres across the country including the Young Vic, Northampton Theatres, the Tricycle, the NT and Sheffield Crucible, with productions including HENRY VIII and the world premiere of Jack Shepherd’s Holding Fire! at Shakespeare’s Globe, and Wild Oats which reopened the newly refurbished Bristol Old Vic. A former JMK Award winner, Rosenblatt is the Vice chair of the JMK Trust and is leading a new development scheme with West Yorkshire Playhouse to create a hub for Yorkshire-based directors, providing support and opportunities to emerging talent. Following his debut West Yorkshire Playhouse production Of Mice and Men, he directs the regional premiere of Untold Stories: Hymn & Cocktail Sticks as part of the Playhouse’s Alan Bennett season from 2-21 June.

Published in 1937, John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men was inspired the author’s experiences of working on ranches in the 1920s, where he encountered migrant workers and a harshness of living that defines his work. The first stage production was written by Steinbeck and directed by George S Kaufman, opening on Broadway in 1937. Studied widely for its themes of friendship, loneliness and hope, Of Mice and Men remains enduringly powerful and is a rich source for adaptation, including a forthcoming Broadway revival.

Of Mice and Men is in the Quarry Theatre of the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 28th February to 29th March 2014. Tickets are priced at £12.00 to £28.00. Book online at wyp.org.uk or call the box office on 0113 213 7700.

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