Theatre’s homage to the carnival

Leeds, 25th August 1980

Used YEP letters page

Caribbean Carnival, Leeds.
Leeds, 25th August 1980 Used YEP letters page Caribbean Carnival, Leeds.

West Yorkshire Playhouse is paying homage to the 50th anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival with a new production.

The theatre will celebrate the event’s anniversary with Queen of Chapeltown, as part of a season of carnival inspired events.

The play has been inspired by first-hand accounts from the West Indian community. It follows four immigrants as they arrive in Leeds, including founding carnivalist Arthur France.

The production spans a journey through time seeing the Quarry theatre transform from post-war Britain to the hosting of the first ever King and Queen Show at Leeds’ Jubilee Hall.

Writer Colin Grant said: “In an inhospitable post-war Britain a group of pioneering West Indians came up with a simple and defiant riposte: Carnival. Queen of Chapeltown captures that moment of extraordinary transformation: the birth of a tradition which, for one weekend in August, would wash away the bad taste of anti-immigrant sentiment with a burst of colour and flash of exuberance that would forever change Leeds and Britain.”

Leeds West Indian Carnival Chairperson Arthur France said: “I left the tiny island of Nevis in the 1950s, leaving my home and family behind for a new future in the UK. As a student in Leeds, I yearned for Caribbean culture and heritage and Leeds West Indian Carnival was born as an antidote to that yearning. I’m excited to see how Queen of Chapeltown will document the very beginnings of Carnival and the challenges we overcame to make it happen, and celebrate that first burst of Caribbean culture, music and art in Leeds 50 years on.”

Queen of Chapeltown, directed by Amy Leach, will run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from September 12 to 15. Ring the box office on 0113 213 7700 for more information.

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