Members of Wimborne Community Theatre have been using lockdown to prepare for our next project on the rivers of Wimborne. Using a wide variety of media we have produced videos – photos – poems – writing – sounds – animations – paintings, reflecting on the theme. We will be using many of the ideas in our Rivers production in 2021, as well as the memories and stories we are collecting from the local community.
See what we’ve come up with so far …
WCT is planning a site-specific community theatre production in 2021 performed in, on or near the Wimborne River Allen (one of the purest chalk streams in Europe) or the River Stour.
To launch the project we invite you to tell a Wimborne river story or memory to be shared with people from around the world in celebration of World Rivers Day, on Sunday, September 27.
Please use the form below and send to us.
We welcome stories from people of all ages, and family stories about a favourite place, or times spent fishing, swimming, bird watching, picnicking, reflecting or just walking by the river.
What does being near the river mean to you?
Read other people’s stories and memories here
If you prefer to remain anonymous, please state. Otherwise your name will be published alongside your memory on the WCT website.
Why WCT members are focusing on our local rivers for the next production:
- We asked ourselves: how much do we know about the river? How often do we stop and look? Who does look, and why?
- We talked about the beneficial sense we feel of being close to water, seeing birds and the wildlife of the river bank, of pausing to look, and of spending time close to nature, and the importance now of people thinking about ecological issues.
Members agreed that we would create a River production which:
- Reveals – what lies beneath the familiarity of our locality, in terms of history and ecology and explore threats to the East Dorset environment, & ‘to open people eyes and ears’ through performance and sound. We will explore how people with visual impairments will be able to explore this, through touch and hearing.
- Connects and Develops – an existing sense of community felt by many WCT members, that Wimborne town represents a ‘heart’ situated in an ancient location alongside the rivers, a place inhabited since Neolithic times – and to encourage involvement of people who may live outside ‘mainstream’ cultural activities.
- Explores some of the following issues:
- appearance of otters and how they bring joy to observers
- the sounds and behaviour of fish
- local voices
- making what we notice and prioritise accessible through theatre
- tensions and differences with regards changes to our environment
Photo by Gill Horitz
Chris, who died recently, was an invaluable part of Wimborne Community Theatre for 25 years and will be greatly missed by us all. She performed in many of our productions, sometimes with her children, Ben and Ellie, bringing enthusiasm, ideas and creative energy to everything she undertook. She played a variety of roles from an Elizabethan commissioner in By Hook or By Crook, a Wimborne mother welcoming evacuees in Mrs J Puts out her Bunting, to an all-seeing bossy housekeeper in Enquire Within. In the Millennium play The Quarterjack’s Challenge she was the audience’s favourite, voted Wimborne Worthy of Worthies with her portrayal of Alicia Payntere, the wise woman of Cowgrove.
Chris was involved in every aspect of WCT – she was great fun at workshops and rehearsals and a willing volunteer backstage and with fundraising. She and Frank most recently compiled an intriguing town trail for our summer fundraising event and provided vital backstage support in our productions ByTheWay and Echoes of the Past. Always supportive but never afraid to give constructive criticism, her positive attitude and vitality will long be remembered and treasured by her friends at Wimborne Community Theatre.
The Bare Bones, 2003
Grist to the Mill, 2005
Mrs J Puts Out Her Bunting, 1995.
Chris 2nd from left
Enquire Within, 2007
During lockdown, WCT members have been working collaboratively online.
On Sunday, 24 May, members took part in a commemorative reading of the original production Mrs J Puts Out Her Bunting, devised by Wimborne Community Theatre in 1995 as part of Wimborne’s VE Commemorations, and performed in the Cornmarket, Wimborne.
The reading was dedicated to Chris Dowdle, who sadly died recently after a long illness. Chris had been a supportive member of the group for many years, and performed in the original Mrs J Puts Out Her Bunting.
We gathered together 10 people who were in the original production (some who were then children), who joined more recent members for the reading on Zoom.
We were thrilled to welcome back the following who were in the original production: Jessica Billington, Sammy Boyle, Sharon Muiruri, Adrian and Lynnet Williams, Julie Gooder
The play, set in 1945, tells of the stoical heroism of an ordinary woman, Mrs J, who represents the quiet spirit of British resolve and determination during that time. The show was developed by Wimborne Community Theatre members from research using poems, speeches, songs and local stories woven together with a Daily Sketch story from May 1945.
Read more: Mrs J Puts Out Her Bunting
Future Plans: Plans for WCT’s involvement in the re-opening of Priest’s House Museum have been postponed, although we hope to perform at the opening ceremony in the Autumn. Further information will follow.
Work on the second production for the Priest’s House Museum Revival project to celebrate the reopening of the refurbished museum has now been suspended.
The production, scheduled for the end of July, will now be delayed until at least the Autumn. However, we are continuing to plan and share creative ideas and will start rehearsals as soon as we can.
Work has started on our exciting new project on the rivers of Wimborne and we very much hope to be able to produce an outdoor exploration on this theme in 2021.
As part of the research and development phase about the role and associations of rivers in Wimborne, members visited the flooded River Allen in January, walking from Walford Mill to the town centre on the look out for suitable locations.
On Saturday 8th February (1.30 – 4 pm) we met to consolidate our thoughts on sites and themes and clarify an outline for the river project.
Lockdown has provided some challenges but we have continued to meet on-line and to find ways of continuing the creative process through group writing and artistic responses to our town’s rivers.