During September, working with Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership, Theatre in the Quarter will embark on a journey around railway stations in Cheshire and Greater Manchester to present Over By Christmas, a choral commemoration of the departure of local soldiers to the Western Front in autumn 1914.
Featuring well-loved songs of the period, Over By Christmas captures the spirit of optimism and patriotism of those leaving their loved ones, perhaps never to see them again.
A community choir of ‘soldiers’, ‘nurses’ and their families will recreate this poignant and historic moment, accompanied by live musicians.
This ambitious site-specific project will involve more than 300 people of all ages from across Cheshire and will be performed at a total of 24 locations in the region.
Matt Baker, artistic director of Theatre in the Quarter, said: “It has been a real thrill to see how many people across the county are involved.
“With the added participation of children from over 20 schools, and the many organisations who are rallying around to support the performances, it is clear that the project has really inspired people across the generations.”
Sally Buttifant, Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership officer, added: “This project is about remembering local people and the sacrifice that they made, and the journey that began at their local station.
“It’s reminding people of the importance of the railway network and stations, as communities played their part in this world-changing event.”
Over By Christmas is created by Theatre in the Quarter’s writer-in-residence Helen Newall, and the company’s founder and artistic director Matt Baker.
As well as being an acclaimed playwright and librettist, Helen is also a reader in performing arts at Edge Hill University, and makes sound and visual installation work and digital sceneography.
Matt is also director of Theatre in the Quarter’s young people’s group, Jigsaw Children’s Music Theatre and director of award-winning Chester-based community choir A Handbag of Harmonies. He was composer for the highly successful Chester Mystery Plays 2013.
Over By Christmas is a free event and part of the Imperial War Museum’s First World War Centenary Project.
The production opens at Bolton Street Station in Bury on Sunday, September 7. Subsequent dates include:
September 11 - Ellesmere Port Station at 9.30am, 10.30am and 11.30am; Little Sutton Station at 1.25pm and 2.25pm.
September 12 - Poynton Community Centre at 11am; Handforth Royal British Legion at 2pm.
September 13 - Goostrey Station Car Park at 10.20am; Hanford Hall in Handforth at noon and 2pm; outside Holmes Chapel Station 4.30pm.
September 14 - Outside Chester Station at noon and 5pm; Outside Delamere Station 2pm; Delamere Visitors Centre, 3.30pm.
September 19 - Helsby Station at 10.10am; Frodsham Station 11.20am and 12.15pm; Runcorn East Station Green at 1.35pm.
September 20 - Northwich Station at 10.30am; Plumley Station Car Park at 11.40am; Hale Platford 2 at 2pm; Stockport Station at 3.30pm and 4.15pm.
September 21 - Crewe Station at 12.30pm and 1.30pm; Outside Congleton Station at 4pm and 5pm.
September 22 - Blacon Old Station Site at 9.30am, 10.40am and 1.30pm.
September 25 - Manchester Piccadilly Station Foyer at 11am, noon and 1.30pm.
September 27 - Willaston Hadlow Road at 11am and 12.30pm; Saughall Vernon Institute 2pm.
September 28 - Outside Poynton Station ticket office at 11am; Macclesfield Station Car Park at 12.30pm and 2.30pm.
More information about TiQ together with a full schedule for Over By Christmas can be found at www.theatreinthequarter.co.uk .