Stage is set in Leeds for story of the Barnbow lasses

Women and girls at work at Barnbow.

Women and girls at work at Barnbow.

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Women in Leeds can take centre stage in a new play telling the story of the brave ‘Barnbow lasses’.

Running at West Yorkshire Playhouse from June 15 to July 9, Barnbow Canaries has been commissioned to mark the 100th anniversary of the single largest loss of life in the city’s history.

The drama has been inspired by real women who worked – and, in some cases, died – at the Barnbow munitions factory in Cross Gates during the First World War.

Scripted by acclaimed writer Alice Nutter, it will be a professional production but will also feature a 60-strong supporting community cast of women who will act, sing and dance in scenes throughout the show.

Open auditions for places in the community cast will be held over the next few weeks.

Director Kate Wasserberg said: “This is a play about the people of Leeds and so it felt really important to us that local women be part of the show.

“No previous experience is needed, just enthusiasm for the project and a willingness to learn.”

Auditions for the community cast will take the form of a fun workshop process.

The first audition is being held on Wednesday, April 20, at the Ukrainian Community Centre on Newton Grove, off Chapeltown Road.

Two more follow at John Smeaton School on April 27 and David Young Academy on April 28.

All the auditions run from 6pm to 7.30pm. To book a place, ring 0113 213 7700.

A total of 35 women died in an explosion at the Barnbow factory on December 5, 1916.

The site had opened the previous year and, as increasing numbers of men were called up to fight in the war, women – affectionately known as the Barnbow lasses – eventually formed the vast majority of its workforce.

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