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Riding Lights

Riding Lights Theatre Company is one of the UK’s most productive and long-established independent theatre companies. Founded in York in 1977, partly through the initiative of a city-centre church, the company continues to take innovative, accessible theatre into all kinds of communities far and wide.

Our aim is to create unforgettable, entertaining theatre in response to current issues and the hopes and fears of the world we share. While the company’s roots are in a christian ethos, our work is open to everyone, using faith as a springboard to explore all aspects of life.



World premieres in recent years have included African Snow, a co-production with York Theatre Royal, marking the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act (York Theatre Royal, West End transfer and national tour), Augustus Carp Esq. By Himself (Friargate Theatre), Dick Turpin (Friargate Theatre) and Artistic Director Paul Burbridge’s adaptation of Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (a national tour co-produced with the Northcott Theatre, Exeter). For the summer of 2012 Riding Lights, along with York Theatre Royal and York Museums Trust, produced the epic-scale production of the York Mystery Plays 2012.

Frequently characterised by quirky satire, Riding Lights’ productions challenge audiences to engage with current issues, often examining the reverberations of historical events in today’s society. Classic plays such as Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (two national tours), Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist (the inaugural production at Friargate Theatre) Dario Fo’s Mistero Buffo (Friargate Theatre and national tour) and Max Frisch’s The Fire Raisers (Bridewell Theatre, London) have found fresh and arresting relevance in Riding Lights productions.


Regular tours of new and devised work by Riding Lights have established a huge network of non-theatre venues across the UK, attracting large, loyal audiences not necessarily accustomed to traditional theatre, and addressing issues such as fostering and adoption, terrorism, science and faith, social responsibility and safe water provision.

Riding Lights has always produced inspirational theatre for young people, including annual Christmas tours for primary-age children and their families.

The company is dedicated to providing educational opportunities, through its annual Summer Theatre School and Acting Up! Youth Theatre for young people with additional needs or disabilities.


Our Team

Our Team

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Andrew Bradley
Oliver Brown
Sean Cavanagh
Antony Dunn
John Emmett (chairman)
Martin Hands
David Lampitt
Sally Maddison
Yvonne Morley-Chisholm


Sean Cavanagh
Nigel Forde
Bridget Foreman
Murray Watts


Kelvin Goodspeed
Rachel Wall



Riding Lights moved into its first permanent home, Friargate Theatre in the heart of York, in 1999. It opened to the public in May 2000 with the company’s production of Ben Jonson’s classic satire, The Alchemist.

The building features an almost 100-seat studio theatre on the first floor, a ground-floor rehearsal room which doubles as a 50-seat cafe-style performance space, administration and workshop space, as well as a cafe-bar.

As well as being Riding Lights’ base for creating touring theatre, Friargate’s versatility means it functions as a film studio and small scale cinema space with state-of-the-art projection and sound system. Friargate is available to hire for your event – for more information contact Rachel Sanders at

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