How everyday people are set to be the stars of a one-off 12 hour show coming to Leeds Playhouse this month

From factory workers, to butchers, a surgeon and an Iman - the least theatrical experience the better for the cast of an upcoming performance at Leeds Playhouse.

Sunday, 10th October 2021, 4:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 12:17 pm

Leeds’ international performance festival, Transform, and renowned theatre company Quarantine are on the hunt for a dozen different local professionals for a one-off new show they are putting on at Leeds Playhouse later this month.

The diverse list of people they are looking for includes a clock or watchmaker, an ICU nurse, a stockbroker, a philosopher, an Armed Forces officer, a factory worker, a transplant surgeon, a track and trace worker; an Uber driver, a Butcher, a religious leader such as a Granthi, Rabbi, Priest or Imam and an acupuncturist.

The show will run for 12 hours from midday to midnight on October 23, and the idea behind '12 Last Songs' is that it will invite members of the public to demonstrate what they do for work, live on stage to create a fleeting portrait of Leeds.

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In a piece of theatre that will be part performance and part exhibition of people, '12 Last Songs' will explore the role work plays in our lives, how it shapes our identity and, in the context of the pandemic, how these ideas have been completely turned on their heads.

Each person taking part in the event will be invited to work a paid shift on stage, during which they will be asked to demonstrate their skills and answer questions about their work and lives. Transform and Quarantine stress they are not looking for professional actors and no previous performance experience is required.

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She said: "The idea at that time was to open up a conversation with people that would not otherwise speak to each other, especially following the divisions by the EU referendum. It felt like society was in bubbles and people don't speak to each other or embrace people that are different.

Workers from all job sectors across the city are being asked to take part in a one-off play at The Playhouse.

"Everything then went crazy because of the pandemic but we kept talking about it and it became more focused on people that worked across the city, everyday people working so hard but not getting recognised.

"Quarantine will take this around the country and internationally but right now, the focus is developing this in Leeds."

It is not yet known who will come forward from the city's workforce and, Ms Letman adds, it will be an experiment to see how hard or easy it is to break down barriers between people.

She added: "We will find out over the next couple of weeks how challenging is this, to really speak to people you would not speak to otherwise and that is the incentive to join us in this experiment."

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Richard Gregory, co-artistic director at Quarantine, said across the 22 years that his theatre company had been taking to the stage, a common theme had been working with people you wouldn't expect to see on stage.

He said: "It is difficult to persuade people to come into a space and reveal something about themselves and their lives, we thought if we invited them in because of work, that is a way of getting diversity in a room.

"Theatres are important public spaces, they are places people can gather together. They are one of the most important public spaces if you use them in that way. The politics of that is that all kinds of people can have a voice, be heard, be seen as important in the world. It should not just be for a privileged section of society."

People who are interested in taking part in 12 Last Songs should email Jay Millard, Assistant Producer at Transform [email protected] by 6pm, Tuesday October 12. Audiences for 12 Last Songs are free to come and go across the 12-hour duration, and tickets are 'Pay What You Can', starting at £2. www.transformfestival.org

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