A dynamic new play inspired by a real Leeds barber has opened at the West Yorkshire Playhouse this week.
Barber Shop Chronicles, by rising literary star Inua Ellams, centres around the conversations African men have in barber shops, and the role they play in their lives; from newsroom to political platform, local hot-spot to confession box, and preacher-pulpit to football stadium.
The play journeys from a barber shop in London, to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling.
Barber Shop Chronicles is a co-production between West Yorkshire Playhouse, the National Theatre and Fuel and is directed by Bijan Sheibani (A Taste of Honey, National Theatre, War Horse US tour, 2012-2014).
Inua researched the project in Africa, London and Leeds, where he met a barber from Stylistics barber shop in Chapeltown who inspired one of the play’s central characters.
“It is significant that the Playhouse is creating work in partnership with the artistic beacon, the outstanding National Theatre, as well as cutting-edge theatre makers like Fuel,” says Jamies Brining, artistic director 0f the Playhouse.
“The characters in Barber Shop Chronicles are deftly connected across continents and narratives and the play brims with energy, wit and heart. It’s beautifully crafted by its exceptionally talented writer, Inua Ellams, who developed the show in Leeds and drew inspiration from the characters and culture of our city.”
The cast includes Fisayo Akinade (Refugee Boy, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Cucumber, C4), Peter Bankole (Peaky Blinders, BBC), Patrice Naiambana (Spectre MGM, Columbia Pictures) and Abdul Salis (Love, Actually Universal Pictures).
Barber Shop Chronicles runs at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until July 29.