THREE actresses from the district star in a powerful play based on women’s experiences during the Ripper era.

Natalie Gavin - who this year has been in hit TV dramas Line of Duty and Gentleman Jack - stars alongside Jesse Jones, and Tessa Parr in There Are No Beginnings which has its world premiere at Leeds Playhouse this week.

The play, which also stars Julie Hesmondhalgh, who was Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, shines a light on female resilience and solidarity during Peter Sutcliffe’s reign of terror.

Writer Charley Miles interviewed participants in the Playhouse’s Older People programme about what it was like to be a woman in West Yorkshire at the time. Director Amy Leach said: “Many of their stories have fed in to the narrative, creating an important and empowering story.”

Following the lives of four women across the years when Sutcliffe dominated headlines in the late 1970s, the play highlights female fear, strength and survival, and the solidarity and activism born from the time, particularly the Reclaim the Night movement. The production will be supported by a programme of work exploring the real-life impact of stories explored in the play.

Natalie, who grew up in Little Horton, said the play explores the origins of the “regimented rules to stay safe” for women in the late 1970s. “It follows four strong female characters from different walks of life, with different experiences and journeys,” she said. “It looks at how their paths cross and how they are united. It’s funny and heartbreaking - it’s a corker of a play.”

She said the all-female company of “extraordinary, talented and passionate women” creates a “safe space to explore issues that particularly affect females”.

“I felt an instant connection with Charley’s play,” added Natalie. “I started on the right foot, being born and raised in West Yorkshire and being the only daughter of a woman growing up in this era.

“The rehearsal process has really opened my eyes to the fight and the struggle women went through at that time - and are still going through - and how we’re conditioned to behave and what we’re taught to keep ourselves away from potentially dangerous situations, which makes you wonder where the onus lies.

“As women we are told: don’t sit in the front seat when getting into taxis; don’t talk to strangers; if you feel you’re being followed cross over, don’t panic, slow down, let them pass; don’t dress provocatively; avoid dark streets; avoid getting intoxicated and never walk home alone. From a young age, I inherited these rules and asked no questions.

“Theatre is an essential medium to provoke thought, debate and, in some circumstances, hope for change.”

Nearly 10 million viewers watched Natalie revealed as corrupt cop PC Martina Tranter in the final episode of BBC1’s Line of Duty this year. Since playing Andrea Dunbar in 2010 film The Arbor she has been in TV dramas such as Shameless, Prisoners’ Wives and The Syndicate. Otley-born Tessa Parr’s portrayal of Hamlet at Leeds Playhouse wowed critics in March, and Jesse Jones, from Bradford, graduated from drama school last year.

lThere Are No Beginnings is at Leeds Playhouse’s Bramall Rock Void on Friday and runs until November 2. Call (0113) 213 7700 or visit