A new play presented by Milim will shine a light on Jewish Leeds in the 1950s.
As part of Leeds 2023, the city’s year of culture, on 10th September, Milim will present its new theatre production, Meet Me At Cantors. Written by Anthony Clavane and Mike Levy, and directed by Tash Hyman, the play explores the social lives, loves and joy of Jewish community in 1950s Leeds. Older people reminisce about the music they danced to, the people they loved and the fun they had growing up in Chapeltown.
This play draws on real stories gathered through a period of oral histories given by older Jewish people in Leeds, Jewish Leeds tells important stories of community joy which challenges, but does not erase, narratives of struggle and trauma.
Phyllis, Jean, Harvey, Joyce, Malcolm, and Ivan sit around a card table, telling stories. Eventually this builds as we enter full reminiscence of authentic Jewish Leeds stories revolving around Cantors, the fish and chip shop which was the centre of Jewish social life in Leeds.
Some are tales of scrapes that everyone will be able to recognise, some are particularly Jewish experiences, but all of it is inspired by real oral histories.
Among these everyday tales is the striking story of Jacob Kramer, once one of Britain’s greatest artists and later a struggling figure who sketched the customers of Cantor’s Fish and Chip Shop.
We also follow a love story of Harvey and Jean, who once were teenage sweethearts who danced one night, arranged a date, but never saw each other again.
This is a love-letter to Leeds’s Jewish community and an opportunity for Jewish Leeds to shout to the world about its vibrant past. It will light up a stage with memories and music.
Funded by Leeds 2023 and the Heritage Lottery Fund, this production is part of a wider piece of engagement that involves gathering more stories and connecting with young people to explore Jewish histories of Leeds and look towards the future.
There will be two performances on 10th September (3pm and 7.30pm) at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance – the former Chapeltown Road Synagogue
To book go to milim.org.uk or Nscd.ticketsolve. com/ticketbooth/ shows/1173646347