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Yorkshire community ensemble prepare to perform alongside professional company in The Grapes of Wrath

A 40 strong community chorus are in rehearsals in Leeds for the stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s classic The Grapes of Wrath, at West Yorkshire Playhouse from 24 May.

Involving performers from across Yorkshire, the community ensemble play homage to the play’s themes of community and migration, representing and reflecting the local community and playing a vital role supporting the professional actors in the production.

Recruited through open auditions held in March, the community chorus are from across Yorkshire including Leeds, Dewsbury, Wakefield and beyond, with some of the company already involved in Playhouse activity such as the Theatre of Sanctuary refugee programme, and our Youth Theatre and First Floor programmes for young people.

Following the run community ensemble participants will have the chance to create a brand new piece of work piece with a professional writer and director which will be performed as part of Open Season, West Yorkshire Playhouse’s annual festival of community performance.

West Yorkshire Playhouse’s Director of Creative Engagement Alex Ferris said:
“We are delighted to have found a group of 40 fantastic individuals to take part in this show, not to mention the 6 young people from our Youth Theatre. This story is so pertinent to now – it’s been thoroughly fascinating to hear everyone’s take on the themes in rehearsals and how much they’ve taken the story into their hearts. Brilliantly, the next phase of the project will see these same members of the community performing a newly commissioned play by Mark Catley, BAFTA nominated for his writing on BBC’s Casualty*, continuing our dialogue with people in West Yorkshire and beyond.”

Co-produced by Nuffield Southampton Theatres, Nottingham Playhouse, Royal & Derngate Northampton and West Yorkshire Playhouse, Steinbeck’s legendary The Grapes of Wrath is given a modern twist by director Abbey Wright.

Critiquing America’s Great Depression and brought into a contemporary light with a live band playing throughout, The Grapes of Wrath will play at West Yorkshire Playhouse from the 24 May -10 June 2017.

*Nominated for a BAFTA for Best Continuing Drama for Casualty in 2007, 2009 and 2010

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