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.

Winner of the Off West End Award for Best Production for Young People 13+, 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 | Contains occasional emotional themes



★★★★★ Stuns the audience into silence
— LondonTheatre1
★★★★ What the play achieves best is fluidity - between moments, emotions, politics
— Hiive
★★★★ A very powerful voice for those growing up in an uncertain world
— Theatre Bath
A very personal story - with great sincerity
— The British Theatre Guide
A truly 360 degree performance - moments of pure joy and humour
— Culturised
A phenomenal piece of theatre...completely exhilarating
— Children's Theatre Reviews

Audience Reactions

Callum's Journey


Making the Show

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

Photo 25-11-2016, 17 01 02.jpg

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. With Brexit as our impetus, we joined forces with Half Moon Theatre, 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 - two areas that voted to leave the EU and two who voted to remain. In each place we met people, listened to the voices from across the divides and used those conversations to inspire the creation of this show. In total 215 young people added their voice into the mix. Brexit fired our starting pistol, R&D began the same week as the US election result and ended at the 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:

Off West End Award Winners!


Pippa Beckwith
Jaz Hutchins


Devised by the Company

Toby Ealden

Set and Costume Design
Verity Quinn

Sound Design
Guy Connelly

Lighting Design / Production Manager
Phil Clarke

Writing Collaborator / Dramaturg
Chris Elwell


Assistant Director / Assistant Stage Manager
Jenny Daniels

Amy O'Sullivan

Fiona Moon

Technical Stage Manager
Paul Milford

R&D Creatives
Jenny Daniels
Toby Ealden
Laura Hopwood
Luke Vernon


Tour Dates 2017

Half Moon Theatre, London
Thursday 5th - Wednesday 11th October (excluding 7th & 8th)

Pegasus Theatre, Oxford
Friday 13th October

Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival
@ Pavilion Dance South West

Saturday 14th October

Durham Johnston School (not public)
Monday 16th October

Hartlepool Town Hall
Tuesday 17th October

Sunderland Stages @ Sunderland College 
Wednesday 18th October

The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury
Thursday 19th October

Juice Festival @ Northern Stage
Friday 27th October

Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre
Monday 30th October

artsdepot, London
Tuesday 31st October

Stratford Circus, London
Wednesday 1st November

Farnham Maltings
Thursday 2nd November

Quarry Theatre, Bedford
Friday 3rd November

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale
Monday 6th November

Burnley Arts Centre
Tuesday 7th November

The Civic, Barnsley
Wednesday 8th November

Riverhead Theatre, Louth
Thursday 9th November

The Garage, Norwich
Friday 10th November

Guildhall Arts Centre, Grantham
Monday 13th November

Stamford Arts Centre
Tuesday 14th November

South Holland Centre, Spalding
Wednesday 15th November

Terry O’Toole Theatre, Lincoln
Thursday 16th November

Cast, Doncaster
Friday 17th November

The Egg, Bath
Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st November

Brewhouse Arts Centre, Burton
Wednesday 22nd November

The Marlowe, Canterbury
Thursday 23rd November

Cornerstone Arts, Didcot
Friday 24th November

Info, Help and Advice

Undivided: What do you want from Brexit?

Rape Crisis England and Wales
0808 802 9999

Stop Hate UK
0800 138 1625

The Mix - Essential support for under 25s
0808 808 4994

Education Pack

Are you a teacher or youth worker? Then download this pack for free and dig deeper into What Once Was Ours!

Unheard Voices

What Once Was Ours is giving a voice to the generation unheard during Brexit. As the production tours the country, we're also making these voices heard in the social through a series of short video made with the support of The Space. Some voices you'll agree with, some you won't... but starting the conversation is the key to unite us.

360° Voices

Press play, put in your headphones and immerse yourself in a 360° world of real young voices and opinions.

(To watch 360° videos, you need the latest version of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, or MS Edge on your computer. On mobile devices, use the latest version of the YouTube app. You can also head to our Facebook Page and watch this video there.)

Listen To Us

Hopes and Fears




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 the character 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 in an embarrassing way. 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 Garfield Weston Foundation, Winship Foundation, CAW Foundation, Space Arts and BBC.

Developed with the support of Juice Festival, The Civic Barnsley and Lincoln Drill Hall