What Once Was Ours: Barnsley teens contribute to Brexit play

Zest Theatre and Half Moon presents

What Once Was Ours

A part-verbatim, part-scripted immersive show about young people’s attitudes to Brexit taken from interviews with over 200 young people from two Remain and two Leave areas of Britain

Touring 5th October to 24th November

Highlighting the opinions of those too young to vote in the referendum, two of the UK’s leading companies creating work for young people have collaborated on a show based on interviews from over 200 teenagers from four areas of Britain: two that voted Leave and two that voted Remain. What Once Was Ours has been made in reaction to the extreme polarity of opinions and the readiness to attack those with alternate ones, and is aimed at increasing understanding and conversation between those of differing views. The show focuses on a half-brother and sister from very different backgrounds and the struggling relationship when one asks for help.

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? Beautiful imagery, striking original music and immersive design combine to create this powerful new production for young people, which asks why we’ve become so fearful of anyone who is different from us.

Between November 2016 and January 2017, Zest Theatre held extensive workshops in Barnsley, Newcastle/Gateshead, the company’s home county Lincolnshire, and in Tower Hamlets where the Half Moon is located. In each area the company talked to and listened to young people from across the divide to find out their feelings on Brexit, Britishness, politics and society. What Once Was Ours was created based on these conversations, and verbatim quotes from the workshops are used throughout the show.

Barnsley voted by 68% to leave the EU, and Boston, Lincolnshire voted to leave by 76%, the strongest leave vote in the country. Tower Hamlets voted to remain in the EU by 68%, and Newcastle by 51%. Zest Theatre also visited Gateshead, across the river from Newcastle, where the vote was 57% leave.

Toby Ealden, Artistic Director of Zest Theatre and director of What Once Was Ours, said, “The impetus for this new production came the day of the EU referendum result. When the result came in, we spent the day hearing so many of the towns we tour to portrayed in the media as somehow less intelligent, racist and small minded. This portrayal didn’t do these communities justice.

Chris Elwell, Director of the Half Moon and dramaturg of What Once Was Ours said, “We’re excited to be working with Zest Theatre on this exciting new piece of writing for young people that, importantly, has been driven by the voices, words and attitudes of young people across the UK to Brexit. While their views might not have been united, we hope that What Once Was Ours will allow audiences to witness a whole range of different opinions that will allow them to come together and start a more open dialogue.”

Lincoln based Zest Theatre, established in 2007 by Toby Ealden, creates theatre for, by and with young people. They aim to make theatre accessible through dynamic productions and participation projects inspired by the needs, lives and imaginations of those aged under 25. Zest’s previous productions include immersive house party Gatecrash, which toured in 2014 and again in 2016, and Thrive about Post Traumatic Growth, which toured from 2016 to 2017. Director Toby Ealden has been making theatre for young audiences for over ten years including youth theatres, school tours and national touring. His past work includes working as the youth theatre director for Nacro, the national crime reduction charity. During his time there, Nacro toured with young people across the country, including to the National Theatre.

Half Moon is the UK’s leading small-scale young people’s venue and touring company. It is a local organisation with a national remit, committed to supporting artists and young people at every stage of their creative development. Working from their base in East London, Half Moon specialises in new writing and artform development, acting as a gateway organisation that provides pathways for progression and experimentation. Half Moon’s wide-ranging programme reaches 50,000 people annually and engages those who are often excluded from arts activity. Half Moon’s activity includes a season of professional plays for young audiences, national touring productions and an extensive creative learning programme, including seven youth theatres.

Half Moon is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England and receives regular funding from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Half Moon’s digital archive is available at www.stagesofhalfmoon.org.uk.

@zesttheatre | @halfmoontheatre | #whatonce | zesttheatre.com | halfmoon.org.uk

Suitable for ages 12+

Company Information

Director Toby Ealden                                        Creative Producer Fiona Moon

Devised by Zest Theatre and Half Moon            Writing Collaborator/Dramaturg Chris Elwell

Designer Verity Quinn                                       Lighting Designer Phil Clarke

Sound Designer Guy Connelly                         

R&D Creatives Jenny Daniels, Laura Hopwood and Luke Vernon


Pippa Beckwith and Jaz Hutchins

Tour dates

5 – 11 Oct                     Half Moon Theatre, London

43 White Horse Road, London E1 0ND

Thurs 4.30pm & 7pm, Fri 1.30pm & 4.30pm, Mon 10.30am & 1.30pm, Tues 1.30pm & 7pm, Weds 10.30am & 1.30pm | £7

www.halfmoon.org.uk | 020 7709 8900


13 Oct                          Pegasus Theatre, Oxford

Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RE

7.30pm | £13, (£9 concs)                                      

www.pegasustheatre.org.uk | 01865 812150


14 Oct                          Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival,

Pavilion Dance South West

Westover Road, Bournemouth BH1 2BU

6pm | £12 (£10 concs)

www.pdsw.org.uk | 01202 203630


16 Oct                          Durham Johnston School (school’s performance)


17 Oct                          Hartlepool Town Hall

Raby Rd, Hartlepool TS24 8AH

                                    2pm & 7pm | £8 (£5 U25s)

                                    www.destinationhartlepool.com | 01429 890000


18 Oct                          Sunderland Stages at Sunderland College

University of Sunderland, Edinburgh Building, City Campus, Chester Rd, Sunderland SR1 3SD
            7.30pm | £8.50 (£6 concs)        

                                    www.artscentrewashington.co.uk | 0191 561 3455


19 Oct                          The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury

                                    Spiceball Park, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 5QE

                                    7pm | £12 (£10 concs)

                                    www.themillartscentre.co.uk | 01295 279002


27 Oct                          Juice Festival

Northern Stage, Newcastle

Barras Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 7RH

                                    6.30pm | £10 (£8 U21s)

                                    www.northernstage.co.uk | 0191 230 5151


30 Oct                          Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre, London

The Tramshed, 51-53 Woolwich New Road, London SE18 6ES

                                    Times and prices TBC

www.glypt.co.uk | 020 8854 1316


31 Oct                          artsdepot, London

                                    5 Nether Street, Tally Ho Corner, North Finchley, London, N12 OGA

                                    Times and prices TBC

                                    020 8369 5454 | www.artsdepot.co.uk


1 Nov                           Stratford Circus Arts Centre, London

                                    Theatre Square, Stratford, London E15 1BX

                                    2pm & 7pm | £10 – £8

                                    www.stratford-circus.com | 0844 357 2625


2 Nov                           Farnham Maltings, Surrey

                                    Bridge Sq, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7QR

                                    7pm | £12 (£10 concs)

                                    farnhammaltings.com | 01252 745444


3 Nov                           Quarry Theatre, Bedford

St Luke’s Peter’s, 26 St Peters St, Bedford MK40 2NN

                                    7.30pm | £12.50 (£10.50)

                                    www.quarrytheatre.org.uk | 01234 362337


6 Nov                           Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

                                    1 Waterside, Sale M33 7ZF

                                    £9 | 7pm

                                    watersideartscentre.co.uk | 0161 912 5616


7 Nov                           Burnley Youth Theatre

                                      Queens Park Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 3LB                                 

6pm & 8pm | £8 – £4

                                    www.burnleyartscentre.org | 01282 458655


8 Nov                           The Civic, Barnsley

                                    Hanson St, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2HZ

                                    7.30pm | £12 (£10 concs, £8 student)

                                    www.barnsleycivic.co.uk | 01226 327000


9 Nov                           Riverhead Theatre, Louth

                                    Victoria Road, Louth, Lincolnshire LN11 0BX

                                    7.30pm | £10

                                    www.louthplaygoers.com | 01507 600350


10 Nov                         The Garage, Norwich

                                    14 Chapel Field N, Norwich, Norfolk NR2 1NY

                                    7.30pm | £15 (£8.50 concs)

                                    www.thegarage.org.uk | 01603 598646


13 Nov                         Guildhall Arts Centre, Grantham

Saint Peter’s Hill, Grantham NG31 6PZ

                                    7.30pm | £5

                                    guildhallartscentre.com | 01476 406158


14 Nov                         Stamford Arts Centre, Lincolnshire

                                    27 Saint Mary’s Street, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 2DL

                                    7.30pm | £5

                                    stamfordartscentre.com | 01780 763203

15 Nov                         South Holland Centre, Spalding

23 Market Pl, Spalding PE11 1SS

1pm & 7pm | £10 (£7.50 concs)

www.southhollandcentre.co.uk | 01775 764777


16 Nov                         Terry O’Toole Theatre, Lincoln

Moor La, Lincoln LN6 9AX

7.30pm | £12 (£10 concs, £7.50 U16s)

Terryotooletheatre.org.uk | 01522 883311


17 Nov                         Cast, Doncaster

                                    Cast, Waterdale, Doncaster DN1 3BU

                                    7.45pm | £10.50 (£9 concs)

                                    www.castindoncaster.com‎ | 01302 303 959


20 & 21 Nov                  The Egg, Bath

                                    36 Monmouth St, Bath BA1 2AN

                                    Mon 1pm & 5pm, Tues 1pm & 7pm | £7.50

                                    www.theatreroyal.org.uk | 01225 448844


22 Nov                         Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton

                                    Duke St, Burton upon Trent DE14 1EB

                                    7pm | £8 (£5 concs)

                                    Brewhouse.co.uk | 01283 508100


23 Nov                         The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

                                    The Friars, Canterbury CT1 2AS

8pm | £13.75

                                    www.marlowetheatre.com | 01227 787 787


24 Nov                         Cornerstone Arts Centre, Oxford

                                    25 Station Rd, Didcot OX11 7NE

                                    7.30pm | £10 (£8 concs)

                                    www.cornerstone-arts.org | 01235 515144

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *