Walton Hall has served as the backdrop for a new cultural project which is bringing wartime stories to life.
Warrington production company Ludovico has used the hall to film a series of monologues capturing the experiences of people in the town during World War II.
The project has been commissioned by the council through Heritage Lottery funding, secured to mark VE (Victory in Europe) Day, which took place in May, and VJ (Victory over Japan) Day, which takes place on 15 August.
The monologues – which are inspired by World War II recollections held in Warrington Museum – are performed by North West actors, including young people from First Act, a town centre Youth Acting Academy.
Originally due to be a live theatre piece performed in the town centre, the restrictions in place due to COVID-19 mean that the monologues are instead being captured on film to be shown on social media in week leading up to VJ Day.
They will also be packaged together to be used as a learning resource for schools.
A major focus of the monologues is the story of Nat Bookbinder, a Jewish jazz musician who managed the Casino Club at Market Gate, and his fight against prejudice, as he resisted the demands of American soldiers, based in Warrington, to make the club a ‘whites-only’ venue.
Darren Jeffries, founder of Ludovico, said: “The story of Nat Bookbinder, while fascinating and extremely pertinent, is still relatively unknown in Warrington. It’s an incredible privilege for Ludovico to produce these stories in partnership with the museum, preserving and celebrating a unique piece of our detailed history.”
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for leisure and community, Cllr Tony Higgins, said: “This is a fantastic project, which will give local people a fascinating insight into Warrington’s past, as part of the VE Day and VJ Day commemorations. I’m delighted that the beautiful setting of Walton Hall has been chosen as the backdrop for these important stories.”
Cabinet Member responsible for culture, Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, added: “Ludovico’s work, with the museum, to unearth these stories of Warrington’s World War II history are a key part of our VE Day and VJ Day commemorations and are a wonderful way of connecting local people with our history and heritage.
“Even though the current restrictions mean this can’t be performed as a piece of live theatre as originally planned, I’m delighted these stories have been captured on film to be experienced by people throughout the borough and beyond.”
Further details about how to view the monologues and Warrington’s wider VJ commemorations will be released in the near future.
About the National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk.
Founded in 2019 by Warrington actor Daniel Jeffries, Ludovico is Warrington’s creative company, producing short-form media, films and documentaries, alongside learning courses for Warrington’s up-and-coming creatives.