New show exploring young people’s attitude to Brexit comes to Barnsley

A new play exploring young people’s attitudes to Brexit and inspired by interviews with young people in Barnsley is to show at The Civic this November.

What Once Was Ours is an immersive new show about identity and belonging that uses interviews from over 200 teenagers, from two Remain and two Leave areas of Britain, to highlight the opinions of those too young to vote in the referendum.

Made in reaction to the extreme differences of opinions and the readiness to attack those with alternate ones What Once Was Ours is aimed at increasing understanding and conversation between those of differing views.

Between November 2016 and January 2017, co-producers Zest Theatre held extensive workshops in Barnsley, Newcastle/Gateshead, Lincolnshire and Tower Hamlets.

In each area the company 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 quotes from the workshops are used throughout the show.

Inspiration to create the new play came on the day the referendum result was announced. Toby Ealden, director of What Once Was Ours, said “When the result came in, we spent the day hearing so many of the towns we tour being portrayed in the media as somehow less intelligent, racist and small minded. This portrayal didn’t do these communities justice.”

Barnsley voted by 68% to leave the EU, one of the strongest leave votes in the country alongside the Lincolnshire town of Boston, where the company is based.

Speaking of Boston, Toby continues “Here is a rurally isolated town that feels ignored and unheard; a community who’s been left to deal with these changes with very little help or investment. We have to understand that for these young people, diversity is a relatively new thing; change feels scary. Their fears were very real; fears that hadn’t previously been heard with empathy.”

What Once Was Ours looks at these issues and hopes to help young people with different opinions to come together and start a dialogue. The show focuses on a half-brother and sister from very different backgrounds and the struggling relationship between the two.

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.

What Once Was Ours is on at 7:30pm on Wednesday 8 November at The Civic, Barnsley. Tickets £12 | £10 conc. Recommended for ages 12+


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