Theatre Orchard and Big Worle launch new multi-arts project

A major, multi-arts project is being launched in Weston this month, as part of a new partnership between North Somerset’s leading arts organisation Theatre Orchard and Big Worle.

The organisations have joined together to embark on a year-long venture to showcase Worle and shine a light on the community. The ‘Becoming Stories’* campaign will draw out past and present tales from people and places and tell them through a creative programme of live arts, including drama, writing, poetry, dance, film, circus, music and song.

The wide range of activities designed to engage everyone will culminate in a ‘Becoming Stories’ Arts Festival in May 2020, which will place the community centre-stage in a day of performance and celebration. Theatre Orchard will create and curate the festival in partnership with the Worle community, as well as inviting some professional outdoor arts practitioners to take part.

To launch the initiative, people are invited to join the Theatre Orchard and Big Worle teams at the Big Worle Hub on Tuesday 21 May from 10.30am to 1.30pm, where they can find out more about the project and see how they can get involved.

The gathering will be followed by the ‘Chapter 1’ creative writing workshop, the first group activity for the community that will mark the start of the partnership. Led by Bob Walton and Sue Hill from ‘The Write Box’, the session is free and open to all and will explore memories, imaginations, dreams and emotions, drawing out creative writing talents in a friendly, relaxed environment.  ‘Chapter 1’ will take place on 21 May from 2 to 4.00pm at the Big Worle Hub with consecutive sessions running on 4 & 18 June and 2 & 16 July.

Acclaimed author Patrick Gale will join the group on 16 July, providing a unique chance to explore how he has woven a unique sense of place into his latest novel which is set in 1970s Weston.

Over the coming months, local groups and organisations, including schools, nurseries, sports clubs, elderly and youth groups will have the opportunity to take part in a host of creative sessions and workshops led by professional arts practitioners, in an evolving programme of engagement.

Theatre-maker Angela Athay-Hunt will be bringing her renowned, dynamic drama sessions to schools and community groups, with singer and musician Casey Lloyd and beatboxer, Deepraj Singh adding some uplifting vibes into the mix.

Theatre Orchard will also be putting on professional live arts shows in informal settings for all the community to enjoy.  Comedy duo Living Spit bring their ‘Living Quiz’ show to the Parish Pump pub on 20 June at 7.30pm and for family audiences Dizzy O’Dare’s ‘Giant Balloon Show’ will be inflating funny bones outside the Big Worle Hub at 6.00pm on 12 July, followed by a ‘Groovers in the Garden’ silent disco, hosted by local theatre company Atomic Rhubarb.  

Fiona Matthews, Creative Director at Theatre Orchard said: “Theatre Orchard is delighted to join Big Worle on this epic, storytelling adventure. We are looking forward to reaching the heart of the community and discovering new stories from Worle’s historic past, its present and looking to its future, to create a unique and personal narrative of the area told through the voice of the people. There will be something for everyone to enjoy, from contemplative writing to beatboxing. Most of all, we hope that lots of people will get involved and have lots of fun along the way.”

Denise Hunt, Chair of the Partnership at Big Worle said: “Becoming Stories is all about coming together as a community, forging new friendships, discovering new skills, enhancing well-being and taking pride in the area and each other. We are really excited to see how the project unfolds and to being able to showcase our collective talent, creativity and energy in a fitting finale – Worle’s very own Arts Festival!”

The ‘Becoming Stories’ programme of events and timings will be displayed at the Big Worle Hub and posted on Big Worle’s Facebook and Theatre Orchard’s website, along with more information on all the workshops. 

If you would like to get involved in ‘Becoming Stories’, Theatre Orchard would love to hear from you. Please contact either or or check out their website yourself – they are a really exciting company

About Theatre Orchard 

Theatre Orchard is a professional arts organisation that both produces and presents inspiring, professional live performance and creative opportunities in a diverse range of places and spaces in North Somerset. Theatre Orchard’s Outdoor Arts and Engage programme is a vital part of the company’s work, ensuring that exceptional creative experiences are part of everyday life for everyone. 

In 2018 Theatre Orchard became the first organisation in North Somerset to join Arts Council England’s National Portfolio – the collection of leading arts and cultural organisations that receive regular funding and form the backbone of the Arts Council’s work.

About Big Worle

In 2011 the Big Lottery Fund announced that a distinct area of Worle would be one of the 150 areas identified nationally to benefit from a £1 million investment over 10 years.  The Big Local national programme is managed by the Local Trust on behalf of the Big Lottery. Our area was chosen as it has not previously had lottery funding or investment from funders.  It was also evident from a range of statistics that the area had suffered a significant decline in living standards.  Particular issues of concern included employment, health, disability, education and skill levels.

About The Write Box

Sue Hill and Bob Walton have been exploring the story boxes in people’s imaginations in Weston super Mare and beyond for the past six years. They have worked with schools, community groups and other artists inspiring imaginative story telling and creative writing, including Pages of the Sea for Armistice day 2018.

Sue Hill from Weston has taught pupils in every year group from reception to college. She gained a BA (Hons) in English Literature from the Open University. She is currently completing her MA in Creative Writing and working on her first novel.

Bob Walton worked in schools in North Somerset for much of his career and now teaches creative writing at Cardiff University. He has a PhD in Creative Writing and his second collection of poems was published in 2017. He is currently writing an ‘alternative’ non-fiction book about Bristol.

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