Daily Archives: June 29, 2020




Document accompanying talk by Tony Horitz, Director, Wimborne Community Theatre for the acta community theatre and heritage webinar, 24th June 2020.

 STEP 1       PRE-STORIES PHASE  WCT members talk about finding:

  • Themes: local/national, e.g. Coming & going of local Railway – Enquire Within 2008; WW1 –By The Way 2018
  • Issues: local/national, e.g. How best to protect common land? – By Hook or By Crook 2005; By The Way 2016
  • Location: Outdoor/unusual indoors, e.g. Victorian Pumphouse – The Great Rinsing 2012; museum/town centre – What They Left Behind 2016
  • History: uncovering/ showing in new light, e.g. NT’s Kingston Lacy House & Grounds – Voyages 1991/94; 1000 year old Wimborne Minster – A Tale of Hours 1993
  • Partners: linked to the above: e.g. National Trust; Wessex Water Board; English Nature’; Priest’s House Museum

 STEP 2       FINDING POTENTIAL STORIES – reflecting a wide range of community, illustrating agreed theme/location

CASE STUDY: What They Left Behind • 2016  (various indoor and outdoor sites, Wimborne town centre) Created as part of national commemoration of WW1, focussing on the impact of the War on people living in Wimborne; ACE Grants for Arts; Wimborne BID

WCT members researched simultaneously:

  • International sources – Western Front Association; online regimental reports; books, (non-fiction and fiction; poetry; war artists – Allies and Germans; war museums e.g. Imperial War Museum; Ypres Cloth Museum; Western Front battle grounds; cemeteries; local and university historians
  • Public Open Days at Museum inviting people to bring inherited OBJECTS to unlock STORIES
  • Interviews about objects to record memories & feelings


WCT members selected the following Objects & their Stories from those people brought

  • Letter written by Mrs Angell to War Office asking for return of her sons’ personal effects ‘so she could grieve the better’ (family of agricultural labourers; loss of three sons)
  • Contemporary Poem by woman in her 80s, addressed to her father – showing the impact of his PTSD on her as a child, and her new understanding
  • Autograph Book belonging to Wimborne resident, Bessie Coggin, and Diary of Londoner, Olive Harcourt, both Volunteer Nurses at local Red Cross hospitals (including songs, messages; cartoons; memories and anecdotes by recovering soldiers
  • Oral History Book about former shop-keeper – owners of Museum building, experiences during war – child’s POV


Process undertaken by WCT members with professional artists, choir, musicians

  • Role-play and Improvisation sessions – ed drama techniques e.g. hot seating; role on the wall
  • Writing Script – stories edited into a whole script that remains authentic to the original material (including Verbatim stories and songs), but also interpreting stories imaginatively , using different styles
  • Sharing back to group, partners, informants – Ensuring groups/partners feel ownership of the script
  • Amending stories –for reasons of historical accuracy (Framptons) and artistic concerns (general)
  • Re-writing/ Editing
  • Rehearsals
  • Performances (different scenes staged in carousel in Cornmarket; church hall; museum shop & garden; Minster Green by War Memorial
  • Evaluation by Audiences/ Reflection
  • Archiving   Heritage Lottery funded website: to archive the materials associated with WCT productions since 1991. This includes local history, stories, new legends, scripts, photographs, videos, etc.                                The physical materials are archived at Dorset History Centre.


Community Theatre and Heritage Seminar

Community Theatre and Heritage Seminar

Telling it how it was: How can Community Theatre and Heritage partners collaborate successfully to preserve and relate stories?

On June 24, 2020, Tony Horitz was invited by Neil Beddow, Artistic Director of Bristol-based acta (avon community theatre association) to talk about WCT’s approach to community theatre and heritage.

Tim Bland, Officer for National Lottery Heritage Fund also took part, to express commitment to theatre’s role in revealing cultural heritage.

18 delegates from Great Britain and Ireland participated.

Tony Horitz said:  I focused on was how we choose particular stories for WCT’s community plays – and whose stories are they?  I explained our two key criteria for community theatre:

  1. our ongoing commitment to working site-specifically – so the place we choose to perform in is almost as important as the material we research – and
  2. our devising process, which involves researching widely, talking to and interviewing a cross section of the community in the creative process of finding the stories and making the play bring the past and present – to life.

I identified 4 stages to choosing the best stories or the theme or topic and scripting them, including the ‘drama process’ way of improvising and role-playing ideas. See here

See here more about acta’s approach which is more theatre-based, but similar in content.                                                                                                      https://www.acta-bristol.com/seminar-keeping-stories-alive/