Feathered star of South Yorkshire play

Joe Portman, who plays Billy Casper, with Kes.
Joe Portman, who plays Billy Casper, with Kes.
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A South Yorkshire theatre group has revived its most popular play – with the addition of a very special new cast member.

Kes is back on stage at Barnsley’s Take Two Academy, three years after LS Theatre Productions performed the Lawrence Till adaptation in the town for the first time.

And the new guest star is Kes herself, a real kestrel hawk.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity, to be able to incorporate a real kestrel into the play, though I won’t give away how and when she will make her entrance,” he said.

“Having Kes on stage adds a real element of truth to the piece. Kestrels are beautiful and I think the audience will be moved to see her appear.”

But Lee admits the old adage of never working with animals and children is true.

“Like any star, Kes can be temperamental – she even has her own dressing room!” laughed Lee who, as well as directing, returned in the role of Judd when the production opened last night.

“Luckily for us, her owner Chris accompanies her everywhere and knows just how to handle her if she has a diva moment!”

Joe Portman, 18, who returns in the role of Billy Casper after originally playing the role aged 15, said: “I’ve loved meeting Kes.

“She’s a beautiful bird and meeting her has helped me get further into the role. It’s easy to see why Billy fell in love with Kes.”

n For tickets, visit kestheplay.ticketsource.co.uk

Proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Society in honour of the fact Kes author Barry Hines, raised in Hoyland Common, is suffering with dementia.