The 1001 Stories partnership sees The Performance Ensemble and Leeds Playhouse co-create a radical programme of storytelling from the generation that shaped British pop, punk and the fight for civil rights.
Household names and local undiscovered talents, all over 60, are joining forces with Leeds Playhouse for a ground-breaking celebration of age and ageing, developed by hundreds of older people and partners from across the city. An original concept by The Performance Ensemble, 1001 Stories will be a ‘takeover’ by older people of every space at Leeds Playhouse, from 24 April–6 May.
New and original pieces of theatre will feature from international and national older artists, many of them from Leeds, including: Dunstan Bruce, ex-frontman with chart-topping band Chumbawamba, original member of Phoenix Dance Theatre, David Hamilton,
poet Khadijah Ibrahiim,actor Dave Johns (‘I, Daniel Blake’), British film director Ken Loach (‘Kes’, ‘I, Daniel Blake’), theatre director Alan Lyddiard, choreographer Tamara McLorg and award-winning Hong Kong cultural leader Augustine Mok Chiu Yu.
At the heart of the ‘1001 Stories Festival’ programme, which is in partnership with LEEDS 2023, Year of Culture, is a new theatre production, Sinfonia. Featuring stories collected from local people, Sinfonia has been created and will be performed by The Performance Ensemble, a theatre company of performers aged over 60. Devised and directed by Alan Lyddiard, Artistic Director of The Performance Ensemble, Sinfonia will be a contemporary collision of performance, stories, live music, dance and life, revealing untold stories through a visually striking performance on the Quarry Theatre stage, in a celebration of lives lived to the fullest.
These generations are forever associated with the birth of British pop or the rise of punk, fashion firsts, the first man on the moon and the fight for civil, social and political rights; they have lived experience that cannot, and should not, be forgotten. There are 161,000 older people over the age of 60 currently living in Leeds, they all have stories to tell but too often they’re isolated, alone and not given the opportunity. We wanted to show that these people matter and more, that they have something to say that everyone can relate to, can learn from.Director, Alan Lyddiard
1001 Stories Festival, 24 April–6 May 2023
25April, ‘Cormorants’ – Courtyard Theatre
A world premiere solo performance by award-winning Hong Kong cultural leader Augustine Mok Chiu Yu. Combining striking imagery and poetic language, ‘Cormorants’ will tell the story of our relationship with nature and each other.
26 April, ‘In Conversation with Ken Loach’ – Courtyard Theatre
British film director Ken Loach joins Dave Johns to discuss a career that has spanned 60 years; his sharp eye and vision especially relevant in today’s political climate.
27 April (to 6 May), ‘Sinfonia’ – Quarry Theatre
World premiere of a dynamic new cross-artform show, filled with original stories from the lives of older people across the Leeds City region. Directed by Alan Lyddiard, composed by Nikola Kodjabashia and choreographed by Tamara McLorg with designs by Neil Murray,
29 April, ‘I, Filum Star / I, Stand Up’
Dave Johns presents his acclaimed stand-up show that charts his incredible journey from bricklayer, to stand up, to film star at the age of 67.
2 May, ‘Moving with Joy’
Bringing together professional and community led dancers from Lychee Red Chinese Seniors Project, the Vandan Gujarati Women’s Group, Backbone, Ascendance, and Third Bite, Moving with Joy is a celebration of dance curated by Tamara McLorg and original member of Phoenix Dance Theatre, David Hamilton.
3 May, ‘Am I Invisible Yet?’
Dunstan Bruce, ex-frontman with chart-topping band Chumbawamba, premieres his new play ‘Am I Invisible Yet?’, a personal and irreverent one-man show takes the audience on an existential voyage told through poetry, prose, music and projection.
4 May, ‘Steel Pan Stories’
Celebrating the often-forgotten artists from the Windrush generation and their contribution to the traditional musical genres of the Caribbean people. The history of the steel pan and the story of renowned steel pan pioneer St Clair Leroy Augustine Morris will be told through the sounds of calypso and soca, by Khadijah Ibrahiim, featuring the work of Paulette Morris with the Paradise Band and other guest artists.
1001 Stories is a collaboration between The Performance Ensemble, Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Museums and Galleries, Leeds Older People’s Forum and LEEDS 2023. The first collaboration of its kind in Leeds, thousands of stories – of heartache and holidays, family and fate – have been submitted by Leeds people as part of this project, cementing the city’s growing reputation and commitment to being the best city to grow old[AM1] in.
Funding for 1001 Stories has come from Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The National Lottery Community Fund, Leeds City Council – Leeds Inspired, The British Council, The National Arts Development Council, Hong Kong, Link Together Initiative, Hong Kong and LEEDS 2023.
More artists and events will be announced in the coming weeks. Priority booking is now open for Priority Access, Playhouse Pass and Under 30s members with general on sale from 28 February.