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Playmakers presents exciting Lottery-funded project

Kat Henderson, our Engagement Producer has secured a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an exciting new project, Home Fires.

The project explores the lives of women and child in Hampshire during the Second World War, and the role the theatre played in the community at the time.

Volunteers were called to uncover stories about life in the region, and the theatre, from newspaper and museum archives, or they could share their personal accounts.

The research then produced a show, also called Home Fires, featuring Winchester actor Martin Jakeman who has toured the production, playing host to an immersive pop-up experience, containing newspaper archives, smell pots and audio recordings.

In character, Martin recounts stories from the period, about rationing, air-raids and life as an evacuee, with the sounds, smells and artefacts helping to transport audiences back in time.

"It's the Home Front brought to life with a cup of tea!"

Home Fires debuted at Hat Fair 2019, and has also been to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard and Theatre Royal Winchester’s Open Day.

Martin was the winner of Playmakers Top Hat Competition 2018 – which gives past and present students of the University of Winchester the chance to win mentoring from Hat Fair Director, Andrew Loretto, and return to the festival the following year as a billed act, with a brand-new show.

Kat and the Playmakers team are now working on a pop-up exhibition, which will tour public buildings; and a schools workshop inspired by the research that has been carried out.

Home Fires has been made possible by a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant awarded to Play to the Crowd, the charity responsible for Theatre Royal Winchester, Hat Fair and Playmakers.