Saltaire Village, World Heritage Site
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Saltaire Village World Heritage Site
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Added to website: 9 September 2012
MULTI-STORY WATER - Theatre along the River Aire and Leeds-Liverpool Canal

Première: The production will be performed on Friday 21, Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September.

Yorkshire residents’ stories retold through a new piece of devised theatre along the River Aire and Leeds-Liverpool Canal, in the Shipley-Saltaire area.

A new, 3-part theatre performance will dramatise the history of enviromental change in and around the River Aire, in the Shipley area. Multi-Story Water is unique piece of mobile storytelling that draws on the stories, memories and reflections of local people living close to the Aire. Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and responding to a challenge from the Environment Agency, the project seeks to use site-specific arts practice as a means to engage audiences and local residents in a creative conversation around questions of river stewardship and flood resilience. The production will be performed on Friday 21, Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September.

The River Aire has many stories to tell, as it flows through the Shipley area. It runs past 1950s housing estates and shiny new apartment blocks, a World Heritage Site and derelict industrial sites. It runs parallel with the Leeds-Liverpool canal, for which Shipley was once a key service hub, and intersects with the famously filthy Bradford Beck. Residents here remember flood crises and mill closures, but also have tales of improving water quality and growing wildlife diversity. Perspectives of the agencies who are responsible for the waterways have also been sought and along with the local residents' stories have served as raw material for the creation of three, inter-locking tours of the area.

Audiences can choose between a musical boat ride on the canal, and two guided walks along the Aire – one in the greener area near Saltaire, the other in the post-industrial centre of Shipley. The production is directed by Simon Brewis, Associate Director with Red Ladder Theatre Company, and features Yorkshire-based actors David Smith, Lynsey Jones and Richard Galloway. Musician and songwriter Eddie Lawler, known locally as “the bard of Saltaire”, also performs.

Multi-Story Water is part of the AHRC's umbrella programme Researching Environmental Change. Theprojectis acollaboration between researchers in arts and sciences: Stephen Bottoms (Professor of Contemporary Theatre and Performance at Manchester University) is leading the project in Yorkshire, while Lindsey McEwen (Professor of Environmental Management at the University of the West of England) is heading up a parallel project in Bristol. Stephen said today;

"Site-specific theatre practice has acquired increasing recognition in recent years. Such work often takes place in exciting environments, but it’s quite rare for it to explore environmental themes and issues – even though these are increasingly pressing for all of us, as the crazy weather and flooding in Yorkshire this summer showed. With Multi-Story Water, we’re trying to look at the way Shipley’s waterways connect people up in an area that can appear quite disconnected, socially. And people in the area, we’ve found, have a lot to say about this!”

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