Portsmouth’s Kings Theatre have been awarded £9,900 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for their new Theatre of War heritage project.
The project will focus on the social context of World War One and the role of the provincial Edwardian playhouse in a busy port city.
The Kings Theatre remained open throughout the war, providing solace and comfort and a chance to forget about the horrors of war for a few hours.
Residents of the city, as well as troops and nurses temporarily stationed in Portsmouth, were entertained by some of the biggest stars of the period, yet little has been recorded of this time prior to and during the war.
Now, thanks to the new funding, the heritage of the theatre during wartime Britain will now be better interpreted.
To mark the centenary of WWI, the Theatre of War project will give people the chance to come together to preserve the memories of the people who lived during the war.
Volunteers will collect photos, newspaper clippings, documents, letters, and photos of keepsakes, as well as family tales passed down through generations.
Commenting on the awarded funding, Katrina Henderson, Learning and Community Engagement Officer at the theatre, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and can’t wait to get started on the project. I am excited about getting local people from Portsmouth enthused about the historical importance of the Kings Theatre and its role during First World War.
“We hope that lots of great stories come to light which we can share with the wider community.”
Explaining the importance of the Heritage Lottery Fund support, the Head of HLF South East England, Stuart McLeod, said: “The impact of the First World War was far-reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £83 million to more than 1,640 projects — large and small — that are marking this global Centenary.
“With our small grants programme, we are enabling even more communities, like those involved in Theatre of War to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”
With help from industry professionals, the information gathered will be interpreted into a documentary film by pupils from St. George’s Beneficial School, where they will include archive material and interviews with historians.
The research collected will be curated into a permanent exhibition at The Kings Theatre, and a touring exhibition that will go out to the wider community.
The exhibition and film will be launched at a special celebratory event later in the year. The project will allow the public to discuss, contribute, share, and research information about the theatre during World War One.
Want to volunteer to help the project? Fill in this short form on the Kings Theatre website and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday 1st February 2017.