Seminar – Keeping Stories Alive: Heritage and Theatre

acta heritage seminar

Telling it like it was: How can Community Theatre and Heritage partners collaborate successfully to preserve and relate real stories?

Join us on Weds 24 June from 1.30pm – 3.00pm for an online, interactive seminar – created for audiences to learn how to collect and collate real life stories from the past, and utilising the art form of community theatre to support social change.

Who is this seminar for?

  1. Theatre Makers: anyone interested in learning about storytelling – with the emphasis on utilising true stories, learning and reflecting upon our past.
  2. Heritage Workers: anyone working in the world of history and heritage, with an interest in how the arts can interpret, celebrate and keep the past alive.
  3. Creative Artists: anyone interested in learning how to make art today, that reflects upon and utilises historical stories.
  4. Local Government & Social Change Professionals
  5. Students and Academics

Guest Speakers


  • Availability: Tickets are limited to 20: book your place here.
  • Event Structure: Detailed timings will be announced closer to the time, but please note there will be time for a drinks break and networking.
  • Interactive: We want this seminar to bring you real value, and will be offering opportunities to ask questions in advance, as well as other interactive elements to maximise your learning, and recordings available after the seminar.


For decades, community theatre and heritage organisations have worked together to discover, preserve and celebrate histories – personal, local, national – developing a range of approaches in theatre, ethics, and project structure. 

In these momentous times, what can we learn from the best practices in heritage theatre to make sure the ‘real stories of real people’ are collected and interpreted correctly in the future. (Also discussed in Neil’s recent blog, Drama out of a Crisis.)

This is the latest of acta’s seminar series, and the first in the Cornerstone programme, funded by PHF to widen diversity and develop practice within the community theatre field.

The seminar will be conducted online, in keeping with Government guidelines.

Places are limited so please follow this link to book!

Why now?

We are all, always, living through history; everything we do, everything we experience, is part of that. We can’t escape it. But we can record it, we can reflect it, we can communicate it.

Finding ourselves in the middle of events of truly global and historic significance made us think about how history is recorded, how it is interpreted, and, significantly, whose history.

When the story of this time is told, whose are the voices that will be heard, and who will do the telling?

Community Theatre has a long-established relationship to history; going right back to the roots of the work, finding, recording and relating people’s stories of local and national events has been the material underpinning much of the artistic work created.

This work has taken different structures, and had different aims – celebrating local history, exposing historical wrongs, tackling the roots of contemporary problems.

So much of the theatre acta creates with the people of Bristol is heritage-based, whether that is telling untold stories a century old, or contemporary stories specific to particular cultural groups.

It is always important to us to get the story right, to be honest, and true to the material we find; whilst at the same time creating compelling and engaging theatre.

These things can co-exist; must co-exist if the piece is to be of any value.

So, the question is, how do we mark and measure these times, times which we are constantly reminded are ‘unprecedented’. Do we have a duty to do that at this point in time; should we already be thinking about how we collect stories for future generations to hear? Will anyone want to see a ‘Coronavirus Community play’, or will we all groan and turn away; want to forget?

These are the subjects, the issues that have prompted our seminar; we’re so interested in hearing what our guests, and our attendees, have to say.
We’re all living through this – though I hesitate to say ‘we’re all in this together’ – some of us are more ‘in it’ than others.

Let’s hear your thoughts on 24 June.