History

1985
The first Blahs show, ‘Battlefield’, inspired by Jeff Nuttall’s book ‘Bomb Culture’ and a very large record collection. Youth workers liked it, and we did a youth centre tour.

1987
‘The House That Jack Built’, the first of 11 shows that playwright Mike Kenny (included on list of top ten living playwrights in the Independent on Sunday 2003) has written for the Blahs.

1991
‘A Winter’s Tale’ by Shakespeare adapted for a primary school audience and our first piece of participatory theatre merging the play and workshop.

1996
‘Stuck’ by Mike Kenny, the story of the Siamese twins Chang and Eng – short listed for Writer’s Guild Best Children’s Play.

1998
Angel’, a production of Mark Catley’s first play which set him up as a playwright.

2000 – 2010
‘Silas Marner’, a participatory theatre programme commissioned by Richmond Hill Primary Learning Network initially for a three-year project that just kept on going.

2002
Five-week residency in a primary school in India where we created our first programme of professional development for teachers.

2005
Dick Downing introduced the Blahs to the concept of the Mutual Learning Triangle describing a learning exchange between artist, teacher, and pupil.

2006
‘Raft of the Medusa’ was the first participatory show to be produced through the Company of Teachers project in Rotherham.

2009
‘When the Wind Changed’ was the first show produced by the Blahs for Early Years children.

2010
‘Stuck’ gets its second production after 14 years. Directed by Ruth Cooper for a national tour in the Blahs 25th year.

2014
Founder member Anthony Haddon leaves the Blahs. Deborah Pakkar-Hull takes over as Artistic Director.

2015
Bill Nighy joins the Blahs as its new Patron and a photographic exhibition celebrating the Blahs’ 30th anniversary is displayed at Leeds Town Hall.

2015
‘Inspiring Curiosity’, celebrating 50 years of Theatre in Education is held at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. The Blahs are represented on a panel and deliver two workshops.

2016
The Blahs are selected to participate in two high profile Continuing Professional Development and Learning projects with teachers – CapeUK’s Specialist Learners in Creative Education and RSA’s Performing Pedagogy – providing opportunities to consolidate expertise in this area.

2017
The Blahs work in partnership with Chapel FM to engage a group of young people from the community to write and broadcast the original radio play ‘Sansaar’.

2018
‘The Vultures’ Song’ tours to schools, community and theatre venues marking a shift towards engaging young audiences across sectors. The performance also includes access to online interactive digital resources and involves an international partnership with Delhi based Yellowcat. ‘The Vultures’ Song’ is written by Mike Kenny, his first new play for the Blahs in several years.

2019
‘The Vultures’ Song’ is one of three plays shortlisted by the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain for Best Play for Young Audiences. The Blahs form a partnership with Leeds Museums and Galleries to begin to develop work exploring their collections.

2020
In response to the global pandemic and the closure of venues, the company makes its work available online gaining over 12,000 views/downloads and performs storytelling workshops outdoors for socially distanced family audiences.

2021 – present
Storytelling walk ‘Stirring Up the Past’ for ages 9+ is launched celebrating the diverse history of Leeds. All audio and interactive resources for schools and families are available online continuing our dedication to cultural engagement in an unknown landscape of possible lockdowns and social distancing.

2021
Debra Pakkar-Hull steps down as Artistic Director and Iain Bloomfield takes over as Director marking a new artistic direction for the Blahs towards becoming a collaborative and producing hub for artists and companies.

2022
R&D period begins with schools and communities on ‘A Hidden Garden’ focusing on an exploration of food poverty, growing at home and access to green space in the UK.

2023
Work begins on Heartbeats – a new project between Creative Minds and the Blahs to look at how we can use arts and creativity to make the stay better for children and their families on the Children’s Ward.

Projects

Children and young people lead us in exploring important stories with artists, families, schools, and students. Here are their stories:

Stirring Up the Past

Project | Stirring Up the Past

A FREE storytelling walk around Leeds city centre for everyone aged 9+.
Heartbeats

Project | Heartbeats

Heartbeats is a new project between Creative Minds and The Blahs to look at how arts and creativity can make the stay better on the Children’s Ward.
HIDDEN GARDEN Square 1 - Full Image

Project | The Hidden Garden

We have teamed up with national charity, Trees for Cities, to bring a story of gardening, friendship, and food to children.