Take a plunge into Shoreham’s past with immersive history event

After exploring the history of Crawley, Half-Time Orange Theatre now turn their attention to Shoreham for this year’s Shoreham Wordfest.
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The Big Picture – Tales of Shoreham-by-Sea will take you to the heart of Shoreham’s history, allowing you to meet some of the fascinating characters associated with it, across two days of performances, each lasting from 50 minutes to an hour. The Big Picture will have four shows on Saturday, September 30 at 3pm, 4.30pm, 6pm, 8pm and four more at 2pm, 3.30pm, 5pm, 7pm on Sunday, October 1, all at Marlipins Museum. You will be guided through the venue in small groups on an immersive history trail as budding screenwriter Sylvia Morley, your host, searches for inspiration for her next script. In doing so, she will bring history alive before your eyes.

Ethan Taylor, the show’s writer, producer and director, said: “We're trying to create an environment where people can wander through either disused or historic spaces. In Crawley it was a disused space but in Shoreham we have got the museum which is reportedly the oldest non-ecclesiastical building in the country. Audiences will enter the space and meet people from the past, various historical figures connected with Shoreham.”

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Along the way they will meet King Charles II who fled from Shoreham after defeat. He hid in Shoreham for one night.

Ethan TaylorEthan Taylor
Ethan Taylor

“You will also meet Phoebe Hessel who was the 19th-century figure who disguised herself as a soldier so that she could fight and not be parted from her lover who was also a soldier. She spent the last days of her life in Shoreham. You will also meet Cecil Pashley who was an entrepreneurial aviator who to all intents and purposes is the reason Shoreham has an airfield.

“The performance will be between 50 minutes and an hour and the audience will meet these people and also get to see some of the artefacts in the museum. We like to build a good relationship between the audiences and the performers themselves. The audiences are invited to become as involved as they want and there's plenty of opportunity for repartee between the characters and the audience.

“Doing the research for the show I just absolutely loved. Outside of the theatre world my other passion is definitely history. Localised history is something that has always gripped me. There is always such beautiful history attached. People go to Rome or ancient Greece but I think ‘Why are you doing that when you've got such wonderful history actually in your backyard?’”

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Ethan and the company have created a theatre model which can so easily be attempted elsewhere: “Our aim as a theatre company is bringing to life local community history. We would like to do this sort of format all over the country. I'd like to take it to Worthing where I'm based myself, and if we can take it to other places that would be great. We're talking to Worthing council at the moment and I believe that they're coming along to see this in Shoreham. We've got a couple of projects coming out back in Crawley, one connected to Crawley Town Football Club and then we would like to go further afield. Chichester is on the radar.”

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