New play exploring young people’s attitudes to Brexit visits Barnsley

New play exploring young people’s attitudes to Brexit visits Barnsley

By Adele Forrest | 17/10/2017

New play exploring young people’s attitudes to Brexit visits Barnsley

A NEW play exploring young people’s attitudes to Brexit inspired by interviews is coming to Barnsley Civic theatre next month.

What Once Was Ours is an immersive show about identity and belonging that uses interviews from more than 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, the play is aimed at increasing understanding and conversation between those of differing views. 

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

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 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 to portrayed in the media as somehow less intelligent, racist and small minded. 

“This portrayal didn’t do these communities justice.”

In Barnsley, 68 per of voters chose to leave the EU, one of the strongest leave votes in the country alongside the Lincolnshire town of Boston where the theatre company is based.

Speaking of Boston, Toby added: “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 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, their dad. 

But what happens when Callum suddenly turns up in desperate need of help? 

The show will be at The Civic, Barnsley, on Wednesday, November 8, at 7.30pm.

Tickets start from £10, call 01226 327000 or visit