Story of Kes to be retold on stage in tribute to Hines

Actor Jack Lord during a visit by the cast and creatives of the West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Kes to SMJ Falconry Centre in Oxenhope near Keighley.  Pic: Anthony Robling.

Actor Jack Lord during a visit by the cast and creatives of the West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Kes to SMJ Falconry Centre in Oxenhope near Keighley. Pic: Anthony Robling.

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A poignant theatrical tribute to one of Yorkshire’s most highly revered authors is being readied for a tour of Leeds.

Just over a month on from prolific writer Barry Hines’ death at the age of 76 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, West Yorkshire Playhouse is bringing his most famous work to audiences with a production of ‘Kes’.

The story about 15-year-old Billy Casper who escapes his troubled school life by training a kestrel was originally penned by Barnsley-born Mr Hines as the 1968 novel ‘A Kestrel For A Knave’ but was adapted to critical acclaim on screen as the classic film Kes.

Now, both those works have inspired an adaption for the stage. The production opens in Leeds’ Courtyard Theatre on May 20 and runs until June 4. It will then tour community venues across the city until June 18.

Artistic director James Brining said: “It presents a fantastic opportunity to share afresh this incredible story of hope; a story that is universally revered and also rooted right here in Yorkshire.

“With the recent news of Barry Hines’ passing this production is all the more poignant as we mark the loss of one of our great northern writers.

“Generations have been moved by the plight of Billy Casper and the unlikely friendship between boy and bird and it’s down to the enduring power of Hines’ novel that it will continue to do so for generations to come.

“We’re proud to be putting Kes centre stage at West Yorkshire Playhouse and taking this production out to community venues across Leeds.”

The story is told through a cast of two - Dan Parr and Jack Lord - who have paid a visit to SMJ Falconry Centre in Oxenhope to see kestrels in action up close.

The Playhouse production is adapted by Robert Alan Evans and directed by Amy Leach.

Michael Kirk.

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