Leeds Playhouse and Headlong Theatre have announced their co-production of Jitney, author August Wilson’s mix of conflict, tragedy, secrecy, reconciliation and love. Written in 1979, it won the Olivier best play of the year in 2001.
The story is set in 1970s Pittsburgh and centres on a company of taxi drivers and their various relationships, at a time when post-war America was still racially segregated. Licensed taxi cab drivers wouldn’t travel to Pittsburgh Hill in those days, so unofficial, unlicensed taxis – known as jitneys – were the alternative.
Jim Becker, played by Andrew French (cover image), owns and manages the jitney taxi company. His son, Booster, played by Leemore Marrett Junior, has just served 20 years in prison.
Fielding, played by Tony Marshall (Fans of Casualty will see another familiar face here) is an alcoholic ex-tailor; Doub a Korean war vet, played by Geoff Aymer, Youngblood, played by C J Beckford – and Leeds Playhouse audiences will know Sule Rimi, who plays Turnbo, from the acclaimed production of Barber Shop Chronicles. Turnbo is the gossip whose loose tongue gets him into trouble.
Leanne Henlon, as Rena, is Youngblood’s girlfriend and mother to his child – and they are the motivation for Youngblood working several jobs.
Dayo Koleosho is Philmore, a hotel doorman.
The production will be directed by Tinuke Craig (The Color Purple, Leicester Curve in association with Birmingham Hippodrome).
Tinuke Craig: “I’m really excited to have the chance to spend time with this iconic play and its wonderful characters. August Wilson is one of my favourite playwrights and I am thrilled to be making this show.”
Joining Tinuke Craig on the creative team are Set & Costume Designer Alex Lowde, Lighting Designer Elliott Griggs, Sound Designer and Composer Max Perryment, Movement Director Sarita Piotrowski, Associate Director Prime Issac, Voice and Dialect Coach Eleanor Manners and Casting Director Jacob Sparrow.
Jitney will run at Leeds Playhouse from 16 October – 6 November.
Leeds Playhouse is welcoming audiences back into the building safely. The Playhouse will continue to abide by national guidelines and will keep audiences informed about its ongoing covid safety measures.
Rehearsal photographs provided by Leeds Playhouse.