Leeds-based theatre company TheatreState in association with Leeds Playhouse present SAY YES TO TESS, a new musical inspired by theatre-maker Tess Seddon’s real-life experience of standing in the 2017 General Election for the Yorkshire Party in Leeds North East. The production will open at Leeds Playhouse this March ahead of a major UK autumn tour.
Recovering from a break-up that sent her back home to Yorkshire, 30-year-old Labour supporter Tess discovered the Yorkshire Party. Their seemingly eccentric fight for Yorkshire devolution and love of amateur dramatics made them perfect material for a play. But the more Tess researched, the more she found herself questioning the UK’s centralised power system and lack of meaningful representation, choosing to join them and stand herself.
SAY YES TO TESS is a hilarious first-hand account of our weird and wonderful democracy. Tess knocks on doors, speaks at hustings and begins to believe in her power to change things. Until she is told to drop out to protect Labour’s votes.
Written by Tess Seddon with catchy, original songs by Harry Blake and co-directed by the pair, this true story-turned-musical teeters between hilarious absurdity and powerful hope. SAY YES TO TESS is a fun, accessible and entertaining musical for people who don’t think politics is for them.
Leeds Playhouse Artistic director James Brining said: “We are really proud that this has been developed through Leeds Playhouse’s Artist Development programme, Furnace. Tess ran for election whilst undertaking her placement as Resident Director here at the Playhouse and it is fantastic to have been part of the whole journey and continuing that support and commitment to and progression for local artists in Leeds. SAY YES TO TESS explores prescient themes like apathy, political representation and independence with wit, originality and integrity whilst also being a great night out. It’s certainly got my vote!”
Tess Seddon said: "Harry and I met through Leeds Playhouse in 2017 and instantly had such fun playing around with all the mad things that had happened to me. It's a strange thing turning your life into a musical! I'm so excited to be telling this unique Northern story and continuing this journey with Leeds Playhouse. At a time of huge political divides, I hope SAY YES TO TESS will bring people together to reimagine the system no matter what Party they believe in."
This is a musical about hearing every voice.Notoriously terrible singer Tess plays herself alongside talented actors, singers and musiciansJonathan Dryden Taylor (The Butterfly Lion, Chichester Festival Theatre), Danielle Henry (My Brilliant Friend, National Theatre) and Max Runham (Reasons To Be Cheerful, Graeae) who play characters including her aggressive housemate, estranged father, theatre friends in London and ever enthusiastic Yorkshire Party members.
Set and costume design by Rūta Irbīte (previously shortlisted for Linbury Prize), lighting by Amy Mae Smith (There Are No Beginnings, Leeds Playhouse) and movement direction by Rachel Fullegar (Leeds-based GraceFool Collective) with Access Consultancy by Nickie Miles Wildin(Cutting It, Royal Exchange).
Each performance of SAY YES TO TESS will feature integrated audio description and touch tours are available for every performance if booked 24 hours in advance.
SAY YES TO TESS, Bramall Rock Void, Leeds Playhouse
26 March – 4 April, Press night 27 March, 8pm
Box Office 0113 213 7700, Book online leedsplayhouse.org.uk
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