Leeds Kirkgate Market ready to trade its secrets in new play

Liz Simmons, one of the cast of The Market, at Kirkgate Market.

Liz Simmons, one of the cast of The Market, at Kirkgate Market.

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a new play about Leeds’s 800-year-old Kirkgate Market aims to give theatregoers a real life insight into the place and its people.

The Market, which is being performed in the historic building itself as part of next month’s Transform Leeds festival, will invite guests to take an evening stroll with the actors, and explore the secrets and stories of the city’s trading gem.

The audience will meet characters from the past and the present, all inspired by real people who work and shop there.

They will include Michael The Master Butcher, Linda The Button Lady, Dancing Dean The Caribbean Cafe Man and The Spice Lady from Mauritius. 

The ‘verbatim’ theatre production will be performed by a company of professional and community actors and is written by three Leeds-based writers, Aisha Khan, Eamon Rooney and Zodwa Nyoni.

To put together the piece, the trio set up their own stall in the market, and interviewed around 100 people.

The play – made in collaboration with the team at West Yorkshire Playhouse – will include snippets of conversations over a cup of tea, and community choruses which will fill the grand architecture of the market with light and sound.

Co-writer Zodwa Nyoni said the play will help understand how “precious” the market is to so many.

“We met lots of different characters,” she explained of the creation process. “Some people had been there for generations. They were talking about their family business, and how they have seen the market change. People would say ‘this is part of my history’. It’s about telling all their stories, and the history of the building that means a lot to them.”

The Market runs from April 16 to 20. The audience will be guided throughout the performance. Call 0113 2137700 to book.

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