UNLOCKING HISTORY AND HERITAGE THROUGH THE ARTS

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Do you have an important person who was born or lived in your community? Or do you have an idea for a history and heritage project that would engage members of your neighbourhood, village, town or city? If so, then get in touch with Keystage Arts and Heritage to see if we can help produce a memorable heritage event involving all of the community.

Have a look at some examples from our recent projects and see how we worked with communities to produce a high quality artistic outcome:

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‘CITIZEN OF THE WORLD’ - Thetford, Norfolk                                                                     (2009)

The ‘Citizen of the World’ project celebrated the bicentenary of the great English radical, Thomas Paine, author of ‘Rights of Man’ and one of the founding fathers of the USA. Keystage was commissioned by the Thomas Paine Committee to write and direct a community play with original music. The whole community rallied together; actors, chorus members, musicians, costume designers, stage hands... We recruited a great team of local people to research in Paine’s dramatic, better-than-Hollywood life and produced a memorable play involving nearly 40 local actors from aged 8 to 78. The play performed at the Carnegie Rooms in October 2009.

Everyone involved learned so much about Paine and felt proud that such an important figure was part of their town's heritage.

“You mastered all the problems there must have been with working at a distance and over a long period behind a cheerful and unflappable face turned to the world, nurtured a cast of all ages and built a potential drama group for the future AND did full justice to Tom Paine and produced a show which balanced instruction and delight in classical measure and deeply satisfied its audience.

Fun, Fun and Fun.

Great job, magnificent show.”


Chair of the Tom Paine 200 Committee

‘Signs of the Times’ - Stapleford, South Cambridge                                                                   (2012)

Members of Stapleford Village, Cambridge, felt that as the nation was soon to reflect on sixty years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 2012 was an ideal year to celebrate the history of Stapleford and to offer the younger members of the community the opportunity to gain understanding of their local heritage so they contacted Keystage Arts and Heritage to help them achieve their goal. We put together a project to explore and share the  history of Stapleford, involving a broad a selection of the community as possible.


The local school children were trained to be ‘history detectives!’ by Keystage Arts and Heritage and they explored their village with help from local historians. Their work resulted in four information boards on the villages rich history (see top left) that were displayed throughout the village over the Jubilee weekend.


The project finale was a community play, providing the children with a visual experience of their past and recent heritage and a memory to treasure! 'Jubilee've It!' (see bottom left) played to an audience of nearly 400 in the Jubilee marquee. The large all-age cast began by parading around the perimeter and across the stage - greeting the audience in their wonderful costumes and giving them a taste of what was to come. Warrior Queen, Ghostly Knight, Neolthic tribesmen and ARP wardens met a girl in a trance, a pyrophobic Vicar and the entire staff of a country house. Two and a half thousand years of local history and heritage, most of which was actually true, was shared with the capacity crowd.


With a focus on sharing memories and stories, the project encouraged intergenerational learning and provided a starting point for future generations to explore their village heritage. Let's hope the seeds have been planted for more history learning and more drama!