As it tours Yorkshire’s Aire Valley via the Leeds Liverpool canal this month, a traditional canal boat will serve as a stage for ‘This Island’s Mine’.
The play examines the heritage of the canal and the river and how they have helped to shape local communities. It is set on an original 1930s canal boat ‘The Ribble’, and is part-performance, part friendly chat around the table. Audiences can join two characters in conversation and discover the history of West Yorkshire’s waterways.
Director Simon Brewis: “This Island’s Mine is a story for everyone because we are all shaped by the places that we live. Whether you have a vested interest in the waterways, industry, and heritage, want to learn more about it, or are simply looking for something to do of a weekend – we’re here for you!”
The story is of Barbara and Danny, two friends who grew up in Dockfield, Shipley. Audience members help the characters build a map detailing the history of the waterways and shared stories. Leeds Industrial Museum in Armley will ultimately display the map.
Simon: “Dockfield, is a strip of land sandwiched between the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool Canal – hence the title. As we discover more of the characters’ island home with its happy memories there is a definite nostalgic air, but as they reminisce about its heavy industry we see that things actually weren’t always better back then, and their tale starts to map out a hopeful future for our waterways, as Atlantic salmon return to the River Aire.”
The play is commissioned by Aire Rivers Trust’s ‘Developing the Natural Aire’ (DNAire) project in collaboration with Canal Connections and Multi-Storey Water – each one a grass roots organisation working to improve rivers and waterways and safeguard their future.
Simon Watts, Air Rivers Trust’s Community Engagement Manager: “We are delighted to bring this play to the water and explore how Airedale has shaped, and continues to shape, our communities as river, canal, and railway weave around each other. We want to encourage people to explore their local waterways, to be inspired, to discover new gems along the way, and to help us protect them and give them a future – I’m sure This Island’s Mine will help us do just that.”
There are 11 locations along the canal at which people can see the show. It starts in Leeds on Thursday 9th September and takes in Armley, Kirkstall, and Rodley before heading to Bradford and concluding in Skipton on 25th and 26th September.
Tickets cost £3.
For more information and to book, visit www.aireriverstrust.org.uk/this-islands-mine/
Cover photograph: Steve Scott-Bottoms, Claire Marie Seddon, Simon Brewis. All photography by Barnaby Aldrick.