In a rare personal appearance just days before his 89th birthday, national treasure Alan Bennett will return to his home city of Leeds to take part in 1001 Stories, a ground-breaking celebration of age and ageing at the city's Playhouse theatre.
For two weeks from April 24 to May 6 the Playhouse will be taken over by a range of artists and performers and Bennett will join them on May 7 for an In Conversation With.
From the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s to the enormously successful television series Talking Heads and the multi award winning The History Boys at the National Theatre, both previously staged at Leeds Playhouse, local lad Bennett has been a significant name in the British and international cultural scene for over 60 years.
Alan Lyddiard, artistic director of The Performance Ensemble, said: “Having Alan Bennett join our 1001 Stories programme is a wonderful affirmation that creativity doesn’t stop as you get older. He continues to be an astute, satirical and engaging force, still creating incredible work well into his 80s."
1001 Stories has been developed with The Performance Ensemble, Leeds Museums and Galleries, Leeds Older People’s Forum and LEEDS 2023, to give a voice to the pioneering generations who have lived life to the full and are still here to share their stories of love and family, of the everyday and the extraordinary.
Already announced as part of 1001 Stories is theatre production Sinfonia, full of stories, music, dance and life.
In Conversation with Ken Loach, will see the uncompromising British film director discuss his career, while audiences will also be able to see the world premiere of Cormorants by Hong Kong cultural leader Mok Chiu Yu.
Professional and community dancers come together for Moving with Joy; Dunstan Bruce, former lead singer of chart-topping band Chumbawamba, premieres his new one-man show Am I Invisible Yet?, and the history of the steel pan is celebrated in Steel Pan Stories.
The Front of House areas of the Playhouse will host free daily events. Mornings will feature warm ups and workshops such as zumba and line dancing, roller skating and trapeze. A free performance programme will take place each afternoon including sessions with Pudsey Ukulele Group, a Punjabi Poetry Workshop with Sikh Elders Service, a screening room with Leeds Young Film and Leeds International Film Festival and movement sessions with Yorkshire Dance. There will be a reunion for workers from the Burton factory, once the biggest clothing factory in the world, and an exclusive reading from the autobiography of Arthur France, founder of Leeds West Indian Carnival.
People who were part of the punk scene in Leeds and the Rock Against Racism movement are joining a panel discussion and sharing of extracts from a new play by local artist Janet Alexander, celebrating the music and the people of the time. Bringing an international flavour to the takeover are 16 older artists from Hong Kong and Guangzhou who will tell stories and perform their own songs.
More info and tickets here