History of Leeds store M&S played out on stage

Marks & Spencer opened its heritage and coffee shop at Kirkgate Market to customers on Friday 15th March 2013, bringing M&S back to the place where the famous brand started as a penny bazaar in 1884. Credit: M&S Company Archive.
Marks & Spencer opened its heritage and coffee shop at Kirkgate Market to customers on Friday 15th March 2013, bringing M&S back to the place where the famous brand started as a penny bazaar in 1884. Credit: M&S Company Archive.
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A one-off play is to chart the story of high street brand M&S’s journey from a Leeds market stall to international retailer.

Dressed in Time will be performed at the Courtyard Theatre at West Yorkshire Playhouse on Quarry Hill from 2pm today.

The M&S Company Archive – a collection of more than 70,000 historic items unveiled at the University of Leeds’s Michael Marks Building in 2012 – has teamed up with the theatre to create the sell-out production.

Postgraduate students Elizabeth Godber and Shreya Sikka, from the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the university, have written the play.

Starring actors from community theatre groups including the Playhouse’s Heydays and Older People’s programmes, the show will feature characters from the business’s 133-year history.

M&S archive and outreach officer Katie Cameron, from Wetherby, said: “We wanted to do something on a bigger scale and take the archive out into Leeds to reach the city.

“We’ve done fashion events before but we wanted to add a bit of drama to it and bring the story to life with actors instead of us just narrating it.

“It’s going to be brilliant after all these rehearsals and the actors working so hard. It’s going to be amazing to see it coming together on the stage.”

Michael Marks first came to Leeds in 1884, and the production is to portray how employees during the Second World War dealt with clothing rationing and what shoppers in the 1960s thought of mini-skirts.

Costumes have been carefully chosen from the archive’s handling collection of original vintage and replica garments.

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