The Octagon Theatre has received £36,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new project, The Octagon Archive, which will aim to generate an archive for The Octagon Theatre and it’s antecedents following the venue celebrating its 40th Anniversary.
Over its 40 year history there has never been an archive of the venues that preceded The Octagon Theatre or of its professional and amateur entertainment history. The Octagon Archive project will create such an archive through the making of oral history recordings, the research and assembly of photographs, films and documents, as well as special performances from local groups. All of these elements will be drawn together into a celebratory show and exhibition at the theatre in 2016.
The Octagon is delighted to have been granted this funding in order to preserve its rich history and is pleased to announce that students from Westfield Academy and members of the Yeovil Amateur Operatic Society (YAOS) will be joining them on this project. Westfield Academy students will be researching and performing local traditional music and creating their own music about the theatre, whilst YAOS, a major user of the theatre and itself over 100 years old, will be recreating part of one of its first 19th Century performances.
Adam Burgan, Theatre Manager, said, “This is an exciting and ambitious project to celebrate and record the history and legacy of theatre in Yeovil that has touched the lives of thousands of people. Following our 40th anniversary some of the stories and memories patrons got in touch to tell us about were enthralling and moving and have inspired us to create this project that we hope will provide a source of education, joy and entertainment for generations to come.”
The Octagon Theatre began its 40 year history as The Johnson Hall back in 1974 and now stages around 240 performance per year, welcoming over 180,000 guests. To date the theatre is a hive of activity from its first floor gallery space where local art exhibitions are held, to the busy Johnson Studio which houses the Octagon Academy’s popular singing, dancing and acting classes every week. The theatre is excited that these fantastic elements of its daily operation, alongside its professional performance schedule, will soon be archived for the future.
Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture within South Somerset District Council, said “We are very pleased to have been awarded this funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and also pleased to be working with a local Academy and Amateur Operatic Society on the project. The Octagon Theatre has proven to be a great asset to South Somerset District Council over the past 40 years and showing its history will be a great project for the enjoyment of South Somerset residents and patrons to The Octagon Theatre.”
The final performance and exhibition of The Octagon Archive project is currently being scheduled for 2016. More information will be available from the Box Office on 01935 422884 or via the website: www.octagon-theatre.co.uk in due course.