On Sunday 10th July The Octagon Theatre will celebrate the finale of its Heritage Lottery Funded project marking its 40th anniversary and creating an archive of the history of arts and entertainment in the area and those who have contributed to its story.
The project, ‘The Octagon Archive’ is creating an archive of physical and digital records, including old films and newly recorded memories of the development of entertainment in Yeovil, covering The Octagon Theatre’s 40 year history and that of earlier places of entertainment, as well as a celebratory exhibition and production to be held at the theatre in July 2016.
The Octagon Theatre has come together with Windrose Rural Media Trust, Amanda Boyd and Yeovil Amateur Operatic Society to film the memories of people who have known the Yeovil stage in its many forms (the Assembly Rooms, the Town Hall, The Johnson Hall and the Octagon).
Old films from 1960s to 1980s have been discovered, featuring the time when Yeovil was still in desperate need of a new venue and also recording past performances at the Johnson Hall and the Octagon.
Newly filmed memories and old films will be woven together for the live show and will feature contributors such as actress Sarah Parish, Bonny Sartin of the Yetties, singer Maddy Prior, David Lee a pantomime producer for the Octagon for 25 years, Yeovil Amateur Operatic Society, Yeovil Town Band, the Salvation Army choir, a Yeovil historian and the granddaughter of Mr Stanley Johnson the Johnson Hall’s benefactor.
Whilst work continues on the physical archive, the team working on the project are preparing for the celebratory exhibition and performance on Sunday 10 July at 7.30pm. This unique show will tell the story of entertainment in Yeovil, drawn from all the remarkable material that has been discovered. It will feature archive film footage of performances in Yeovil, the Yeovil Amateur Operatic Society will recreate a performance from its earliest history a hundred years ago and the first YAOS production at The Johnson Hall and students from Westfield Academy will perform songs they have produced especially for this occasion. All of this will be accompanied on screen by a stunning selection of pictures and film footage about the history of entertainment in Yeovil.
For those interested in the history of Yeovil as a cultural hub then this event is a must-see. With intriguing and inspiring interviews, charming images on display an event of this nature has not been seen in Yeovil before. Tickets for this special one-off production are just £14 so you can’t afford to miss out.
The team behind the project hopes that The Octagon Archive will continue to preserve Yeovil’s rich entertainment history for future generations. If you have any items or recollections that refer to the history of The Octagon Theatre, The Johnson Hall or further back please share them with the theatre by calling 01935 422884, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by coming into The Octagon Theatre.