Theatre of War: The Kings Theatre Heritage Project

Today, Kings Theatre in Portsmouth has received £9,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a project, Theatre of War – The Kings Theatre Heritage Project. Awarded through HLF’s First World War: then and now programme, the project will focus on the social context of World War One and the role of a provincial theatre in a busy port town. 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 town, as well as troops and nurses temporarily stationed in the town, were entertained by some of the biggest stars of the period, yet little has been recorded of this time prior and during the war. Thanks to National Lottery players, the heritage of the theatre during this period will now be better interpreted.

To mark the Centenary of the First World War, the project will enable local people in Portsmouth to come together to preserve the memories and heritage of the people who lived through the First World War.  Volunteers will collect photographs, newspaper clippings, documents, letters and photos of keepsakes, as well as family tales passed down to help them build a clearer picture of what life was really like.

With help from industry professionals, the information gathered will be interpreted into a documentary film by pupils from St Georges 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 WW1.

The Kings Theatre is looking for volunteers to take part in this exciting new project. For more information or to apply to take part in the project please email a completed short application form to by Wednesday 1st February 2017.

Commenting on the award, Katrina Henderson, Learning and Community Engagement Officer 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 HLF 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.”

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