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Playhouse’s first co-production with the National Theatre, Barber Shop Chronicles, to open in Leeds in July

A dynamic new play inspired by a real Leeds barber opens at West Yorkshire Playhouse on Wednesday July 12.

Barber Shop Chronicles, by rising literary star, Inua Ellams (Black T-Shirt Collection, the National Theatre, The 14th Tale, Fringe First winner), centres around the conversations African men have in barber shops, and the role they play in their lives; from newsroom to political platform, local hot-spot to confession box, and preacher-pulpit to football stadium.

The play journeys from a barber shop in London, to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling.

Barber Shop Chronicles is a co-production with West Yorkshire Playhouse, the National Theatre and Fuel and is directed by Bijan Sheibani (A Taste of Honey, National Theatre, War Horse US tour 2012-2014).

Inua researched the project in Africa, London and Leeds, where he met a barber from Stylistics barber shop in Chapeltown who inspired one of the play’s central characters.

James Brining, Artistic Director of West Yorkshire Playhouse, said:
“It is significant that the Playhouse is creating work in partnership with the artistic beacon, the outstanding National Theatre, as well as cutting-edge theatre makers like Fuel. The characters in Barber Shop Chronicles are deftly connected across continents and narratives and the play brims with energy, wit and heart. It’s beautifully crafted by its exceptionally talented writer, Inua Ellams, who developed the show in Leeds and drew inspiration by the characters and culture of our city.”

The cast includes Fisayo Akinade (Refugee Boy, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Cucumber, Channel 4), Hammed Animashaun (Amadeus, National Theatre), Peter Bankole (Peaky Blinders, BBC), Maynard Eziashi (Mr Johnson, 20th Century Fox), Simon Manyonda (King Lear, The Old Vic), Patrice Naiambana (Spectre, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures), Cyril Nri (Cucumber, Channel 4), Kwami Odoom (DNA, National Youth Theatre REP Company), Sule Rimi (The Suicide, National Theatre), Abdul Salis (Love, Actually, Universal Pictures), David Webber (Captain Phillips, Columbia Pictures), and Anthony Welsh (The Girl With All The Gifts, Warner Bros. Pictures).

The production is designed by Rae Smith (wonder.land, War Horse, National Theatre) with lighting design by Jack Knowles, movement direction by Aline David and sound design by Gareth Fry.

Barber Shop Chronicles plays at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 12 – 29 July.

Barber Shop Chronicles is co-commissioned by Fuel and National Theatre. Development funded by Arts Council England with the support of Fuel, National Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Binks Trust, British Council ZA, Òran Mór and A Play, a Pie and a Pint.

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