Fifteen community performers are currently in rehearsals for Queen of Chapeltown, West Yorkshire Playhouse’s vibrant new production celebrating the 50th anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival.
Recruited through open auditions in August, the community actors are from across Leeds and West Yorkshire, with some of the group already involved in the Playhouse’s Youth Theatre and First Floor, our dedicated space for young people.
The community ensemble play a vital role supporting the professional cast in the production, which follows the journey of four West Indians as they arrive in Leeds, bringing to life the jubilant hosting of the first ever King and Queen Show.
Inspired by original first-hand accounts from the West Indian community, Queen of Chapletown is by leading BBC Radio Producer, author and historian Colin Grant and directed by West Yorkshire Playhouse Associate Director Amy Leach.
Writer Colin Grant said: “Queen of Chapeltown is a play written for the people of Leeds, drawing on the vibrant spoken testimonies of local people. There have been numerous challenges: recreating the glamour and competing dance styles at the 1960s Mecca Locarno; populating a tiny bedsit in Chapeltown crammed with Carnival pioneers; and reimagining the giant Cooperative hairdressers brimming with trainees and improvers. None of that conjuring of the past could have been achieved without the creativity of our generous community cast. The Queen of Chapeltown lifts her crown to them all.”
The professional cast include Chapel Allerton based Emily Butterfield, Huddersfield based Gabriel Paul, Raphael Bushay, Benjamin Cawley and Elexi Walker who played Mercutio in the Playhouse’s acclaimed spring production of Romeo and Juliet.
Queen of Chapeltown plays in the Quarry Theatre, Wednesday 13 – Friday 15 September.
Queen of Chapeltown is supported by Leeds 2023