Zest Theatre and Half Moon co-production

An immersive new show about identity and belonging.

Katie and Callum couldn’t be any more distant and disconnected: different heritage, different cities, different opportunities. Except there is one thing they’ll always have in common: Dad. What happens when Callum suddenly turns up in desperate need of help?

Created against the background of Brexit, What Once Was Ours has been developed through direct contact with young people across the country and uses their words and opinions to explore how politics and national values impact on the complex lives of one family.

Beautiful imagery, striking original music and immersive design combine to create this powerful new production for young people, which asks why we’ve become so fearful of anyone who is different from us.

What Once Was Ours is a Zest Theatre and Half Moon co-production: an exciting collaboration by two of the UK’s leading companies creating work for young people.

Suitable for ages 12+  | Standing performance comfortable footwear advised


Making the Show

What Once Was Ours is a show about difference and the common ground that could unite us.


Over the last few years tension has risen in our communities. We've seen fear of difference spill over into hate, both globally and closer to home. We've felt concerned, yet totally powerless; unsure of what we can do to actually change things.

Together with Half Moon Theatre, we set out to try and get to the very heart of what's going on. Between November 2016 and January 2017 we spent time in 4 different parts of the country: Barnsley, Lincolnshire, Newcastle / Gateshead and London. Each area had very different communities, with a range of political and socio-economic standpoints. In each place we met real people, listened to the voices from across the divides and used those conversations to inspire the creation of this brand new show. In total 215 young people added their voice into the mix. The impetus to make the show came on the day of the Brexit result, we began R&D the same week as the US election result, and completed the creative process at the exact moment of Trump's Inauguration. A crazy time of change and uncertainty for our world. All of this boiled down into the lives of our 2 characters.

Have a read of these blogs to find out more about the process and what we discovered:

Zest relishes the opportunity to captivate those who may think theatre isn’t for them
— A Younger Theatre
Half Moon is a pillar of creativity, uniting young people regardless of race, gender, and ability.
— Time Out London


Coming soon...


Devised by the Company

Toby Ealden

Verity Quinn

Sound Design
Guy Connelly

Lighting Design
Phil Clarke


Writing Collaborator / Dramaturg
Chris Elwell

Fiona Moon

R&D Creatives
Jenny Daniels
Laura Hopwood
Luke Vernon

Tour Dates

Touring nationally 5th October - 24th November 2017

Full details coming soon...



Zest Theatre makes work that is often described as interactive, immersive, site-specific or promenade. Because our shows are a bit different audiences can sometimes have lots of questions or feeling wary about coming. Here are some of the frequently asked questions about What Once Was Ours to help you get the most from the experience:

What is the What One Was Ours experience like?
The show takes place in a visually stunning set. The set surrounds the audience to create a unique, 360° experience with beautiful lighting and suround sound. You will literally stand shoulder to shoulder with them on their journey through the story.

Is there seating?
We do have some limited seating should you need to rest your feet. But this isn’t your usual kind of theatre experience; you are in control of your own experience. This means you can choose to sit on one of the chairs, stand, walk around, or sit on the floor. One of our production team is always on hand, so if you aren’t sure of what to do then make sure you ask for help. We suggest wearing comfortable shoes.

Is the show accessible to wheelchairs?
Yes, again, let us know and one of our production team will gladly make sure you have the best possible experience of the show.

The show sounds like it is interactive? Does that mean I'll be made to do something embarrassing? It all sounds a bit scary.
Please don't be scared! Yes, the show is interactive in places, but not as interactive as some of our previous work. Our characters will talk directly to you and may invite you to get involved. But no one is going to make you do anything you don't want to do. If you aren't up for it then just say no and the cast will leave you alone. BUT the closer you get to the action the more you'll get out of the experience.

What should I wear?
Anything you feel comfortable in!

Does this show have headphones like your other shows?
No, we don’t use the headphones in this one. 

Who is it suitable for?
This show is suitable for those aged 12+. It's has been developed to target those aged 12 - 19. However, the show is really universal in its themes and will be enjoyed by people much older than our target audience. 

Any more questions? Then don't hesitate to get back to us!


A Co-Production with Half Moon Theatre

Supported through public money from the National Lottery through Arts Council England together with the Winship Foundation and CAW Foundation.

Developed in partnership with Juice Festival, The Civic Barnsley and Lincoln Drill Hall