Katie and Callum couldn’t be any more distant and disconnected: different heritage, different cities, different opportunities. Except there is one thing they’ll always have in common: Dad. What happens when Callum suddenly turns up in desperate need of help?
Created against the background of Brexit, What Once Was Ours has been developed through direct contact with young people across the country and uses their words and opinions to explore how politics and national values impact on the complex lives of one family.
Beautiful imagery, striking original music and immersive design combined to create this powerful new production for young people, which asked why we’ve become so fearful of anyone who is different from us.
What Once Was Ours was a Zest Theatre and Half Moon co-production: an exciting collaboration by two of the UK’s leading companies creating work for young people.
What Once Was Our undertook a 26 venue national tour in Autumn 2017 following its opening and a week’s run at Half Moon. As part of this week, a youth led day took place which included a series of workshops and discussions celebrating Black History Month.
What Once Was Ours won Best Production for Young People Aged 13+ at the Offies, the Off West End Theatre Awards on Sunday 4 March 2018. This was the first time the award has been presented, as it was a new category for 2018.
The research and development creatives were Jenny Daniels, Toby Ealden, Chris Elwell, Laura Hopwood and Luke Vernon. This phase took place during the Autumn of 2016 with a series of residencies with young people from 2 areas in the UK that voted ‘Leave’ (Barnsley and Boston, Lincolnshire) and 2 areas that voted ‘Remain’ (Tower Hamlets and Newcastle) in the 2016 Referendum. This work culminated in a ‘workshare’ of the script at Half Moon in November 2016. The centres who worked with the creative team at this time were Bishop Challoner Catholic Federation of Schools, London E1; Horizon Academy, Barnsley; Giles Academy, Boston and Sunderland College.
Supported through public money from the National Lottery through Arts Council England together with London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Garfield Weston Foundation, Winship Foundation, CAW Foundation, The Space and BBC Arts.
From Autumn 2021 the production has been available to watch via Half Moon’s On Demand service.
Listen to the honest opinions of young people left voiceless during Brexit.
Thanks to Arts Council England, The Space and BBC Arts.
Listen to the What Once Was Ours soundtrack by Guy Connelly or buy online – http://hyperurl.co/0u3pm7
Over the last few years we’ve seen tension rise in our communities. We’ve seen fear of difference spill over into hate, both globally and closer to home. We’ve seen many of the regional towns we tour to struggle to make their voice heard and be represented in the national debate. So, with Brexit as the impetus, Zest Theatre in Lincoln and Half Moon Theatre in London joined forces to try and make a new show that got to the very heart of what’s going on.
Between November 2016 and January 2017 we spent time in four different parts of the country: Barnsley, Lincolnshire, Newcastle / Gateshead and London – two areas that voted to leave the EU and two who voted to remain. Each area had very different communities, polarised by a range of political and socio-economic standpoints. In each place we met young people, listened to the voices from across the divides and used those conversations to inspire the creation of this production. In total 215 young people aged between 14-18 added their voice into the mix. With gut wrenching honesty and frequent humour, these young adults were very clear on the opinions of the world around them. Many of those voices are heard in the show – cutting straight to the heart of the issues with incredible insight and maturity sometimes not seen in our political debate.
Brexit fired our starting pistol, research and development began the same week as the US election result and ended at the exact moment of Trump’s Inauguration in January. Further development and final drafts were written as the country faced a string of terrorist attacks and returned to the polls for the General Election. A crazy time of change and uncertainty for our world. All of this noise and rhetoric boiled down into the lives of our two characters; Katie and Callum – half siblings who embody the voices of a young generation
Artistic Director – Zest Theatre
Press play, put in your headphones and immerse yourself in a 360° world of real young voices and opinions. As the show tours the country giving a voice to the generation left unheard during Brexit.
(To watch 360° videos, you need the latest version of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, or MS Edge on your computer. On mobile devices, use the latest version of the YouTube app. OR, head over to our Facebook channel for the most immersive 360° interaction.)
Thanks to Arts Council England, The Space and BBC Arts
Offie (Off West End Award) winner for Best Production for Young People (aged 8+)
“★★★★★ Stuns the audience into silence”
“★★★★ What the play achieves best is fluidity – between moments, emotions, politics”
“★★★★ A very powerful voice for those growing up in an uncertain world”
“A very personal story – with great sincerity”
The British Theatre Guide
“A truly 360 degree performance – moments of pure joy and humour”
“A phenomenal piece of theatre…completely exhilarating”
Children’s Theatre Review
What Once Was Ours won Best Production for Young People Aged 13+ at the Offies, the Off West End Theatre Awards.
The awards were presented in a ceremony at The Albany in Deptford on Sunday 4 March 2018.