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Over By Christmas at St Pancras International, London

Over By Christmas (OBC), written by Helen Newall, and co-directed with Matt Baker, was a site-sympathetic community piece of drama with songs performed in the autumn of 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of WW1, and the entrainment of troops heading to the Front on the stations at which the piece was performed. It was part of the Imperial War Museum’s First World War Centenary Partnership Project. OBC was performed 47 times, at 25 railway stations throughout Cheshire, and at St Pancras Station in London, to over 20,000 people. It involved more than 400 performers and 1,250 school children from across Cheshire. It is a community project which continues the Cultural Capital in Telling Tales project, and specifically concerns cultural memory and commemoration.

Research questions included:

  • How does theatre commemorate?
  • How do site, community performers and community audience members collude to remember what the living participants haven’t physically experienced?
  • How might performance and site specificity amplify community commemoration?
  • How can a production best convey historical information, and dramatic emotion despite the material challenges of the specified sites

Complementary writing includes the script of a talk given by Newall about commemoration and WW1 to the Mid-Cheshire branch of the English Speaking Union in Tarporley, Christmas 2014.

As a result of this project, we were commissioned to make Preston Remembers for the Preston Remembers Project, and Your Country Needs You! by Warrington Borough Council and Warrington Museums for Warrington Festival, 2015. The research questions were also tested in a large open air multi-media and live performance work, Honour, for Quays Culture at Salford Keys in August 2014.

This project continues the ‘Cultural Capital in Telling Tales’ project with which I been engaged for several years as writer-in-residence for Theatre in the Quarter. During this time I’ve created and produced plays with TiQ based on local history and community reminiscence in order to raise awareness of local issues, to educate, provide communities with improved access to the theatre and to improve opportunities for local theatre professionals.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) recognised the impact of Cultural Capital in Telling Tales, with aspects of the project assessed as having ‘very considerable impacts in terms of their reach and significance’, achieving a three-star ranking.

Video Trailer

Video Documentation

Facebook: Over By Christmas Concert Tour 

Awards & Reviews

Cheshire West and Chester Arts Awards – performing arts category

Best WW1 Commemorative Project: National Community Rail Awards, held in the Riviera International Centre, Torquay on Thursday (October 1): The judges described the impact of the project as ‘breath-taking’.

OBC was also shortlisted in the Tourism Experience or Event of the Year category (alongside Jodrell Bank and Tatton Park!) in the Marketing Cheshire Annual Awards 2015.


Barrett, Frances. (30 October 2014) ‘Theatre in the Quarter to take production to St Pancras’:

Barrett, Frances. (23 September 2014) ‘Review: Theatre in the Quarter presents Over By Christmas’:–theatre-quarter-presents-7817129

Congleton Community Projects. (undated) ‘World War 1 Commemorations’

Creswell, Steve. (31 December 2014) ‘Chester group re-enact legendary Christmas Truce football game’, The Standard online:

Dee Video (2014) ‘Remembering Over By Christmas’

Dobson, Kate. (undated) ‘Cheshire East Reflects’, Nantwich Museum

Editor Girl (5 October 2014) Over By Christmas

Fox, Amy. (25 July 2014) ‘Theatre in the Quarter’s Railway Project for WW1 Centenary’, Chester Culture

Frodsham Manor House Primary School (September 2014) ‘Over By Christmas with Theatre in the Quarter’ 

Green, Michael (28 August 2014) ‘Chester: Theatre in the Quarter Chester tour railway stations with World War Centenary Production’, The Chester Chronicle

Green , Michael (June 2014) ‘City Theatre Group Goes to War’, The Chester Chronicle 

Greer, Stuart. (9 September 2014) ‘Concert to Commemorate the Town’s Stations in the First World War’, Macclesfield Express

Henwood, Jo. (11 September 2014) ‘Ellesmere Port: Theatre in the Quarter Performance at Railway Station’, The Chester Chronicle

Henwood, Jo. (9 October 2015) ‘Theatre in the Quarter scoops national award for First World War show’:

ITV News (25 June 2014) ‘Moving wartime scenes bound for North West stations’, Granada: First World War:

ITV News (2014) ‘Moving wartime scenes bound for North West stations’

Mattbakermusic (2014) ‘Over By Christmas Documentary Video’

The Mid- Cheshire Line, (undated) Acorp Awards: ‘The Mid-Cheshire Line wins top award’: 

PACE (November/December 2015) ‘Mid Cheshire Line Wins Top Rail Award’,
Partnerships Newsletter, p12:

Parry, David. (2014) ‘Over By Christmas’, North Wales Coast Railway: Notice Board:

RP (24 July 2014) ‘Over By Christmas, Theatre in the Quarter’, Arts & Culture: So Cheshire

St Pancras International (6 November 2015) ‘Look Up [Events]: Theatre in the Quarter presents Over By Christmas’:

Tagnotowasteplant (13 September 2014) ‘WW1 choral commemoration at Goostrey Station: Over By Christmas’ , Love Goosetrey 

The University of Chester (23 September 2013) ‘The First World War Returning Home: Over By Christmas’:

Wilson, James (5 October 2015) ‘Mid-Cheshire Line lauded after winning national title’ The Bolton News

Wilson, James. (2015) ‘Mid-Cheshire Line lauded afte winning national award’ Knutsford Guardian:

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