One of the north’s best known and longest running carnivals will feature in a new play at the West Yorkshire Playhouse next week.
The Playhouse has worked in partnership with Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee to celebrate the 50th anniversary year of carnival with the vibrant new production, Queen of Chapeltown, which runs from Tuesday, September 12 to Friday, September 15.
Inspired by original first-hand accounts from the West Indian community, Queen of Chapeltown weaves recognisable Leeds voices from the real life events of carnival’s birth in 1967 into an exuberant snapshot of this significant moment in British history.
Following four West Indians as they arrive in Leeds, including founding carnivalist Arthur France MBE, the production spans a journey through time seeing the Quarry theatre transform from post-war Britain to the jubilant hosting of the first ever King and Queen Show.
Surrounded by a company of community actors, a professional cast of five, including Huddersfield actor Gabriel Paul, will share stories inspired by those involved in the inaugural Leeds West Indian King and Queen Show at Leeds’ Jubilee Hall.
The play is written by leading BBC Radio producer, author and historian Colin Grant, who 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.”