Sustained Engagement Programme: South Ward

Sustained Engagement Programme: South Ward


Sustained Engagement Programme: South Ward


South Ward in Weston-super-Mare falls into the bottom 1% of social and economic deprivation in the UK. Over the past ten years, Theatre Orchard has worked with local people of all ages to develop a series of film and theatre projects that tap into the heart of some of the Estate’s deep rooted social issues, and that most importantly provide opportunities for people to get together, gain new skills and friends, and have fun. This work has been undertaken under the umbrella of ‘Bournville Community Theatre Company’ (BOCO).

BOCO’s work has linked with wider groups including Hans Price Academy, Weston College, Bristol Old Vic and community police officers. Over the past 10 years, Theatre Orchard has supported BOCO in the creation of 7 theatre productions integrating community performers and industry professionals, and 3 short films. Three skills-building courses in theatre skills, creative writing and group management have also been rolled out.  

All work has engaged at some level with social issues, and two of the films (on anti-social behaviour and illegal money lending) have been used nationally in educational contexts.  ‘Forever in Your Debt’, a film created in conjunction with the national illegal money lending team, was the inspiration for a BBC1 documentary ‘War on Loan Sharks’, screened January 2017.

Theatre Orchard’s work on the South Ward has led to commissions with two further housing associations for Bristol-based engagement work.

In 2017, initiatives in South Ward will include a new joint programme with Arts & Health South West, further development of Bournville Community Theatre Company and specific project work linked to the professional programme at Theatre Tropicana, including a youth ambassador group ‘Tropicana Troubadours’.


Watch Life From a Window, exploring anti-social behaviour and positive choice, here:

LIFE FROM A WINDOW_final_h264 from Becky chapman on Vimeo.

Watch Forever in your Debt, exploring illegal money lending here:

 Watch ITV report: “Shakespeare helps Somerset estate to find its voice”

“I have always been incredibly impressed with the Theatre Orchard’s innovative ways of preventing anti-social behaviour through the medium of theatre, film and peer education.  Their efforts have brought together a local community and portray local issues that they have all been affected by.”

Sue Mountstevens, Avon & Somerset Police Crime Commissioner

“The only time I feel confident is when I do drama.  It’s got me off drugs and changed my life.  I really mean that.”

Tel Jones, Bournville Community Theatre Company member

Theatre Orchard has a lot of experience and knowledge about the area and the issues that can challenge local people and prevent them from getting involved in their local community. The benefits for those who have been involved in the theatre group in the past have been evident and skills and confidence have been increased.”

Mary Morgan,  Community Engagement Manager, Alliance Homes