Theatre enthusiasts gathered at The Corn Exchange in Dorchester for the launch of its new community play.

The First National Community Play Conference was held on Saturday and hosted by Dorchester Community Plays Association (DCPA) and Dorchester Arts.

At the conference the DCPA announced that its seventh play will be Spinning the Moon, which playwright Stephanie Dale is under commission to write.

Sonia Morris, Chairman of DCPA, said: “Ask anyone who has been involved in previous plays and they will tell you it changes lives. Many of those involved in the first play along with their families have continued to take part in subsequent plays.

“We look forward to staging our record breaking seventh community play Spinning the Moon by Stephanie Dale.”

The new play will be set in Dorchester during the late 15th century. It is based on real events which happened over a 50 year period. The play aims to echo today's political and social climate, while exploring the collapse of the manor houses and the rise in popularity to sheep farming, which in turn saw many people turned off the land and made homeless.


Stephanie Dale said: “Today is the first national conference on community theatre and also the launch of Spinning the Moon.

“I am writing the seventh play for DCPA and it will be directed by Peter Cann with music by Tim Laycock.

She added: “Dorchester Arts are very supportive of DCPA and wanted to work together to bring something unique to the town and members of the community. We are really keen to attract new members and anybody who wants to be involved can be involved.”

The play’s director Peter Cann was also present at the event and said: “The idea is it’s inclusive of the whole community. Anybody can be involved from any age and background with any degree of experience.

“We are very excited, it’s a really exciting play. It will be the first time I have been involved in a play in Dorchester, but I have done a lot of community plays in different countries at different kinds of venues.”

Spinning of the Moon will be performed in 2020, but workshops will begin towards the end of 2019.

Those attending the conference were treated to an enthusiastic panel of speakers including Andy Barrett, Peter Cann, Stephanie Dale, David Edgar, Steph Green and Nina Hajiyianni.

The conference was held in memory of the founder, Honorary Life President and reverend pioneer of Community Theatre Ann Jellicoe, who died in August last year.

Ann co-directed Entertaining Strangers which was the first community play performed in Dorchester and was written by David Edgar.