From Goth and Punk to Fashion and Feminism, Leeds has always stubbornly upheld its right to radical activism. Perhaps one of the most radical cultures to emerge from a city not short of a movement or too, is Leeds West Indian Carnival, Europe’s oldest West Indian Carnival created in 1967 in a very dirty Northern city against a backdrop of political and social unrest.
Queen of Chapeltown draws on first hand accounts with founding members of the much loved carnival to tell the story of not only carnival but the community who became its driving force, the tales of migration and deep roots across stretching across the Atlantic, Africa and beyond. Jamaican writer, playwright and producer Colin Grant will weave these stories together in an original play commissioned by West Yorkshire Playhouse on the 50th Anniversary of Leeds West Indian Carnival.
Amy Leach, Associate Director at West Yorkshire Playhouse said: “Performed by a company of professional and community performers, Queen of Chapeltown will be a moving and joyous celebration of a significant moment in Leeds and British history. It is about a new community arriving in Leeds, finding their voice and becoming part of this multicultural city through creativity and culture.”
Taking in all the traditions of carnival life from Calypso to costumes this production will focus on the traditions of carnival handed down from generation to generation and the stories and connections that bind migrant communities to their past regardless of where their future may take them.
Expect feathers, sequins, song, dance, appearances from Carnival royalty alongside a narrative of what it is to call this place home.
Image: Guy Farrar