A CITY centre pub has been transformed into a 1970s squat in preparation for a major new performance about Bradford’s revolutionary past.

This Space is Occupied looks at an era when numerous groups set up communes in empty buildings, revolutionising art and activism in the city.

The performance will take place in The Old Crown pub on Ivegate, which last year was re-opened by arts group The Brick Box as an arts and performance space. Since then it has seen musical performances, club nights and arts workshops.

This Space Is Occupied runs from Wednesday (May 23) to Saturday June 2, and will look at issues of the time like gay liberation, the Paris riots, the Black Panther movement and the rise of the National Front.

In preparation for the interactive production, three floors of the pub have been turned into a stage that the audience will pass through during the performance, with period furniture re-creating the feel of a 70s arts commune.

It is a production by Bent Architects and is inspired by the events of the late 1960 and early 70’s and the artist, poets and political changemakers who were putting Bradford on the map.

Many elements of modern activism can trace their roots back to the people of this time. Concepts such as flash mobs, performance poetry, magazines as artworks and graphic novels all owe something to this legacy.

A site-specific piece, This Space is Occupied will fill the entire building as audiences encounter imagined characters and situations from 1971, as the leader of the commune prepares for a seismic shift in the creative and political landscape.

The production will match the DIY ethos of the communes, with special effects provided by 1970s record players, overhead projectors and Super 8 projectors.

As well as the living areas and bedrooms, the group have created a dark room, where actual photographs of groups from the time such as the John Bull Puncture Repair Kit.

Audiences, limited to a few dozen people a night for space reasons, will also be invited to get involved, printing their own posters and taking part in arts workshops.

Jude Wright, Bradford-based director, said: “We want people to explore the venue, they might venture into different rooms to see what is going on.

“This whole thing was inspired by groups in the 60s and 70s that saw these empty buildings as places that had potential for creative people.

“We’ve completely taken over this pub and turned all of it into a performance space.

“The issues referred to in this are of the time, but are still really relevant today, issues like the housing crisis. People then saw that there were lots of derelict buildings, but also lots of homeless people with nowhere to stay.

“This is a performance about Bradford, set in Bradford. It is inspired by the city’s cultural heritage.

“We couldn’t do this specific performance anywhere else but this building. It is really thinking outside the box for how you can put together a production.”

Characters in the play include recent immigrants to the city, “hippy” activists and artists.

Bent Architects have previously performed site specific pieces in venues like Bradford Playhouse. The Northern School looked at the city’s theatre school that was set up in the 1950s, and the production took its audience through the theatre, including its backstage areas.

Running at the same time as the show is an exhibition in the neighbouring Brick Box Rooms bar dedicated to one of the main figures of the period.

Off Beat: Jeff Nuttall and the International Underground, showcases the prolific work and global influence of the Lancashire-born writer, artist, musician, author and publisher, who died in 2004. Curated by Jay Jeff Jones, the exhibition is on loan from Manchester’s Rylands Library.

Jeff Nuttall lectured at Bradford School of Art and was at the centre of the network of artists and writers that cultivated the late 1960s International Underground scene.

Nuttall was regarded by parts of the establishment as a dangerous troublemaker.

Tickets for This Space Is Occupied cost £12 and are available by visiting the Brick Box Bar or bentarchitect.co.uk. Performances start at 7.30pm.