Drama in the Dale grew from an ambitious adult and community learning project initiated by Jack Drum Arts. Our flagship project was a re-working of The Bonny Moorhen, a musical play by Jim Woodland which tells the true story of a leadminers’ riot in 1818. Performed in 2012 with a cast and crew of 50 local people in a purpose built theatre that we created in an agricultural shed on the banks of the River Wear.
With the support of a Big Lottery Village SOS grant Drama in the Dale established it’s self as an independent community organisation in September 2012. Then in 2013 we remounted The Bonny Moorhen for Festival of the North East, taking the drama outdoors and creating a promenade production at Killhope Leadmining Museum, 1500 feet above sea, in the beautiful North Pennies.
We then continued to go from strength to strength. In 2013 Drama in the Dale were chosen to be part of the Royal Shakespeare Companies Open Stages project which enabled the group to access mentoring and training from professionals within the RSC. The project culminated in a promenade performance of The Tempest in a disused quarry at Harehope, Frosterley. The show included commissioning new musical compositions which were performed on unconventional instruments made by the group. We were also invited to perform an extract of the play at Contact Theatre in Manchester, alongside other community groups.
Still under the umbrella of The RSC Open Stages, we performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June 2016 as a promenade performance in St Thomas Church and grounds and also using the adjoining Dale Centre in Stanhope.
Our project funding has allowed us to employ project managers, to develop as a business with the support of Durham Creatives, and to send our production director for mentoring with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the future holds yet more exciting opportunities. We are centred around Weardale, and three eventful years have enriched the cultural experiences both of our members residents and visitors of the valley. Plays provide lively, poignant and comical entertainment for audiences, whilst tapping into the talents of members and volunteers. Membership of Drama in the Dale can be a chance to develop and showcase creative skills such as acting, costume making, photography, stage management, set building, marketing and directing. We are committed to cultural education for all ages and abilities, but perhaps most importantly our aim is always to have fun.