Red Ladder story is in the spotlight during Leeds exhibition

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It has spent five decades telling powerful tales with a socially-aware cutting edge.

But now it is Red Ladder Theatre Company’s own story that is taking centre stage, with a new exhibition in Leeds marking the 50th anniversary of its founding.

Rod Dixon, right, with Bernard Atha, who was chair of Red Ladder's board for more than 30 years.

Rod Dixon, right, with Bernard Atha, who was chair of Red Ladder's board for more than 30 years.

Running at Leeds Central Library, it features posters, programmes, photos and costumes as well as the much-used step ladder prop that gave the company its name.

Co-curator and Red Ladder artistic director Rod Dixon said: “For 50 years Red Ladder Theatre Company has responded to the changing world.

“The exhibition reflects Red Ladder as a company of the moment, challenging issues and stories of the times – but at our core is a commitment to telling the stories of the working class, reflecting unheard voices on our stages and making theatre that is relevant to ordinary people.

“The precarious life of a theatre company is as dramatic as the work we put onstage – but we are proud to be celebrating our 50th year as a Leeds company with a long history of making theatre for the many.”

The theatre company can trace its roots back to the emergence of a radical drama group called The Agitprop Street Players from a festival held in London’s Trafalgar Square during the politically tumultuous year of 1968.

It later changed its name to Red Ladder and in the mid-1970s moved to Leeds, where today it has its home on York Street in the city centre.

The company is also marking its 50th anniversary with a production of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage And Her Children, which is running from September 27 to October 20 at the Albion Electric warehouse in Hunslet and will feature Pauline McLynn.

The exhibition runs until June 28 in room 700 at the library, with Rod Dixon and former Chumbawamba man Boff Whalley discussing their artistic collaborations at an accompanying lunchtime talk at 1pm on June 18.