Yorkshire accents in York Shakespeare production spark theatregoer's anger

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Image source, Andrew Billington
Image caption,
Northern Broadsides, the production company behind the show, says it features accents from Yorkshire, the North East and the North West

An audience member quit a performance of a Shakespeare play in York because it featured Yorkshire accents, theatre staff have said.

York Theatre Royal's staging of As You Like It prompted a complaint on Monday, with the theatregoer asking for a refund due to the accents being used.

The Yorkshire-based company behind the show said its performances contained "unapologetic northern voices".

"That's Yorkshire accents, right here in Yorkshire," the theatre's boss said.

Posting on Twitter, Tom Bird, York Theatre Royal's chief executive, said the audience member left after an hour into the 150-minute performance by Halifax-based Northern Broadsides.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

"There are people who prefer Shakespeare to be done in what you'd call the Queen's English, but that's problematic in a few ways," Mr Bird said.

"Firstly, you're in Yorkshire and you want it to hit home in a way that feels immediate to people here. Secondly the production company is set up to do shows in northern accents.

"Thirdly, Shakespeare wouldn't have spoken in Received Pronunciation himself. He was a rural lad from Stratford upon Avon."

Northern Broadsides, which is currently touring the UK with As You Like It, tells audiences the production company brings its "bold, refreshing style to Shakespeare's most musical and much-loved comedy".

Three members of the cast were from Yorkshire, with the performance also featuring accents from the North West and North East, Northern Broadsides said.

Image source, Andrew Billington
Image caption,
As You Like It is currently touring the UK and marks 30 years of the Northern Broadsides company

Laurie Sansom, Northern Broadsides' artistic director, said: "We usually get people saying that hearing Shakespeare done in the northern voice was the first time they felt it belonged to them as much as everyone else.

"It's a very rare complaint, but when it does come along, it makes you realise people can still have preconceived ideas about what culture is, who it's for and how it should be performed. We really embrace ripping that up."

Mr Bird added: "We're super-proud of hosting Shakespeare's work in northern dialects. It's certainly not going to stop us - and there will be no refund.

"The show itself is groundbreaking in other ways. The fact it's being done in northern accents is absolutely not."

Some of Yorkshire's Royal Shakespeare Company alumni

  • Sir Patrick Stewart, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire
  • Dame Judi Dench, from York, North Yorkshire
  • Brian Blessed OBE, from Mexborough, South Yorkshire
  • Sean Bean, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire
  • Dominic West, from Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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