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Clocking In: Life in the Chocolate City

Real life stories from those who worked in York’s chocolate factories

Students from the University of York together with actors from the local community are to perform Clocking In, a new play taken from real life stories celebrating the chocolate making industry in York, at the York Cocoa House.


Katie Posner from Pilot Theatre, Joe Dickinson, a former Rowntree worker, and Tom Cantrell, from the University of York's Department of Theatre, Film and Television, are pictured at the York Cocoa House where Clocking In will be performed. Credit: Rachel Tarkenter, Pilot Theatre.
While enjoying a hot chocolate in this intimate café setting, the audience will be transported inside York's chocolate factories to explore what it was like to work in York's biggest industry. From the production line to the boardroom, the documentary play uses new interviews to celebrate the hidden stories of York's chocolate past and present. 

The play is the result of a collaboration between Pilot Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Script Yorkshire York branch and the University of York’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television, with performances from Tuesday 25 to Saturday 29 June at 7pm and 8.30pm each evening.

Produced by Liam Evans-Ford - who last year produced the enormously successful York Mystery Plays, Clocking In is part of the York Festival of Ideas 2013.

Director Katie Posner of Pilot Theatre said: “Staged inside York Cocoa House where the art of chocolate-making continues to thrive, and bringing alive stories from the ‘Chocolate City’, Clocking In will be a special, intimate event not to be missed.”

The material was edited by Tom Cantrell, from the University of York’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television, from nearly 50 interviews with Rowntree and Terry’s workers carried out by undergraduate students on the BA in Writing, Directing and Performance course and local writers from Script Yorkshire.

What came across strongly in all the interviews was the strong sense of community. While the work was often repetitive, it was the people who made these factories extraordinary

Tom Cantrell

The play centres on the memories and words of former Rowntree employee Joe Dickinson and his fellow chocolate workers, creating a living archive of this important part of York’s social history.

Tom Cantrell said: “What came across strongly in all the interviews was the strong sense of community. While the work was often repetitive, it was the people who made these factories extraordinary.

“For our students this has been a fantastic project as they are gaining invaluable experience working alongside professional theatre-makers in all areas of a production from assisting the producer and director to acting in the piece and working behind the scenes.”   

All tickets are £7 and can be booked at York Cocoa House, at www.pilot-theatre.com or by calling 01904 635 755. Performances: Tuesday 25 to Saturday 29 June at 7pm and 8.30pm each evening. As only 30 tickets are available per show, the play will also be streamed live by Pilot Theatre at www.pilot-theatre.tv

Clocking In forms part of the wider Blood + Chocolate project which sees a city-wide adventure come to the streets of York from 3 to 20 October 2013. More information about Blood + Chocolate can be found at www.pilot-theatre.com/?idno=1183

Further information

  • The York Festival of Ideas takes place from 13 to 29 June 2013. This year's programme - with a theme of North and South – once again brings together a range of world-class speakers, exhibitions, performances and a host of stimulating and interactive experiences for people of all ages, including York residents and visitors to the city. The full programme and tickets are available at www.yorkfestivalofideas.com.
  • More information on the University of York’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television at www.york.ac.uk/tftv