Celebrating community theatre

DORCHESTER may not have had the first community play but it could probably claim to be the most prolific producer of community plays, so it seems right that the first national community theatre conference should be held in the town, at Dorchester Town Hall on Saturday 15th September.

The conference will be led by Stephanie Dale, the author of Dorchester’s next, seventh community play, Spinning the Moon, which will be performed in 2020.

The format will be a conference during the day and social event, Different Stages, in the evening. It is being hosted by Dorchester Community Plays Association (DCPA) with Dorchester Arts. The theme is celebrating and challenging the craft and legacy of Ann Jellicoe, 1927-2017, and DCPA Honorary Life President

In 1978 Ann Jellicoe founded the Colway Theatre Trust and created the community play genre. Over the last 40 years thousands of people have experienced the joy and enrichment of participating in community drama.

The conference will explore that legacy, look at the current state of community theatre and ask what might lie ahead. The opening speaker will be playwright David Edgar and Jon Oram, artistic director of Claque Theatre will be the key-note speaker on the work of Ann Jellicoe.

The day will be an opportunity to hear and meet with theatre practitioners who are seeking to create community work in the current, very difficult funding climate.

Pictured: A scene from Dorchester’s last community play, Drummer Hodge.