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Community theatre project wins Lottery funding

A community theatre production backed by the Imperial War Museum and The Old Vic is to be staged this November to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

The Battle of the Somme was the main Allied attack on the Western Front in July 1916, launched along a 30 kilometre front from north of the Somme river between Arras and Albert in Northern France. The British Army lost a total of 58,000 troops, suffering its heaviest battlefield casualties in a single day.

This project – funded by a 46,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund – brings together 85 volunteers from secondary schools and community groups in what will be the first collaborative effort between the theatre and the museum.

They will contribute to all aspects of the project and take part in three special heritage-focused workshops. All the volunteers will take part in a community theatre production ending with five performances that will take place in the museum's atrium space between 15 and 19 November.

In order to get the local community involved there will be 30 post-performance workshops for schools to take place at the theatre and the museum.

"The Old Vic is thrilled to be working with the Imperial War Museum on a project that commemorates such an important battle," says Steve Winter, the theatre's education and community manager. "It will give all those involved a unique opportunity to learn with professionals from both the theatre and the museum."

Kate Hoey MP, whose Vauxhall constituency includes the Old Vic, described the funding as "wonderful news", adding that "the Battle of the Somme will be brought to life by members of the community, commemorating a truly important part of our history in which every part of the United Kingdom contributed."

The Heritage Lottery fund has previously awarded The Old Vic Theatre Trust a 50,000 project planning grant towards works for the restoration of the theatre building, and over 20 million to the Imperial War Museum for a wide variety of schemes.

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