AN interactive play celebrating the heritage of the Leeds Liverpool Canal and River Aire will be performed on a boat moving through the Bradford district.

The waterway will become a 'moving stage' in September when the play is performed on an original 1930s canal boat, called The Ribble, making its way through places including Shipley, Saltaire, Keighley, Silsden and Skipton.

Described as "part play and part friendly chat around the kitchen table", This Island's Mine will look at how the canal and river have shaped local communities. Audiences will be invited to join two characters in conversation and discover the history and heritage of the waterways.

Director Simon Brewis said: “This Island’s Mine is a story for everyone because we are all shaped by the places that we live in.

“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!”

Using simple props, the play tells the story of Barbara and Danny, two friends who grew up in Dockfield, Shipley. Audience members will be invited to help them build a map detailing the history of the waterways and shared stories. The map will eventually be displayed at Leeds Industrial Museum in Armley.

“Dockfield, is a strip of land sandwiched between the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool Canal,” said Simon. “As we discover more of the characters’ island home with its happy memories there is a nostalgic air, but as they reminisce about its heavy industry we see that things actually weren’t always better back then. Their tale starts to map out a hopeful future for our waterways as Atlantic salmon return to the River Aire.”

The play has been commissioned by Developing the Natural Aire (DNAire), a £2.35m joint project by The Aire Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency funding fish passes on weirs at places including Saltaire together with an extensive programme of community engagements including volunteers, young people, and the public. DNAire is working on This Island's Mine in collaboration with Multi-Story Water, a community-focused arts research project celebrating waterways in Aire valley and exploring local people’s connections with the water environment, and Canal Connections, using canal boats to introduce people to heritage.

“We're 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,” says Simon Watts, the Aire Rivers Trust’s Community Engagement Manager. “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, September 9 then from Friday, September 17 travels to Shipley, Saltaire, Bingley, Keighley and Silsden, concluding in Skipton on September 25 and 26.

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