WORTH Valley birds have helped actors prepare for a major new production of the classic northern story Kes.

The cast of the play at West Yorkshire Playhouse visited SMJ Falconry centre in Oxenhope to see birds of prey in action.

The actors, due to perform at the Leeds theatre later this month, were shown how to use lures and fly kestrels like Billy Caspar, the main character in Kes.

The cast were accompanied by the creative team involved in the stage adaptation of Barry Hines' 1960s classic novel A Kestrel For A Knave.

Dan Parr and Jack Lord, the lead actors, are performing in Robert Alan Evans’s adaptation under the direction of Amy Leach.

Amy said: “I would be hard to do this play without going to fly some birds.

“It feels essential to get that feeling of having a real bird of prey in front of you. It's just incredible - frightening and thrilling at the same time.

"It was fascinating to meet James, a Yorkshire lad who flies kestrels and loves them. He's so comfortable around birds of prey and gave us an insight into actually how Billy might react with a bird.

"When we got back to the rehearsal room we explored all the physical movements we'd watched and learnt during the day."

Kes will be performed in the Courtyard Theatre at West Yorkshire Playhouse from May 20 to June 4, before going on a community tour to venues around Leeds.

Artistic director James Brining said Kes presented a fantastic opportunity to share afresh an incredible, universally-revered story of hope, rooted in Yorkshire.

He said: “With the recent news of Barry Hines' passing this production is all the more poignant as we mark the loss of one of our great northern writers.

“Generations have been moved by the plight of Billy Casper and the unlikely friendship between boy and bird.”

Visit wyp.org.uk or call 0113 2137700 to book tickets.