New year, new resolve…

by Karen Malim

Who hasn’t made promises for the New Year, ones that we are convinced we’ll keep, NO MATTER WHAT, and usually give up on just a week or two in?  I know I have. For instance, I have lost count of the number of years I have resolved to do something about my ‘baby weight’ and have failed miserably at the first hurdle – which usually takes the form of leftover Christmas cake or my daughter’s famous Yorkshire puddings.  I wonder…will this be the year I finally succeed?  After all, it’s over 22 years since the last of those babies appeared on the scene and, to be perfectly honest, the excuse is sounding a bit lame – even to me!

Or that novel…the one that’s been running around in my head for a decade or two and I keep telling everyone is just about to be written…could this be the year that a first draft at least sees the light of day? Hmmm…sadly I have my doubts!

This year my resolutions include a new addition, one I really do intend to keep – and which is a darned sight easier than losing weight or writing novels!

A bit of background…

Following my appointment as the Fundraising and Development go-to person for Dorchester Arts, I have had the opportunity to see an eclectic mix of top-notch performers…and shamefully I have not taken full advantage of this.  I missed Marcus Brigstocke, Forest Forge’s Woman of Flowers and Craig Ogden.  I did, however, get to see the wonderful Swan Lake, the thought-provoking Fracked or Fiction, and, earlier in the year, Angel Exit Theatre’s brilliant Ballad of Martha Brown (twice, it was so good).  I also had a huge amount of fun at the ‘Would I Lie to You’ wine tasting I organised early in December, and was thrilled to see nearly 100 other people having a great time too.  We raised over £1,200; a really encouraging result for what was our first major fundraiser.

Back to those resolutions…

In 2015 I am going to take full advantage of our artistic director Mark’s imaginative and enticing programming, starting with the jam-packed-with-goodies spring season.  I’ll be getting tickets for the Piaf – The Songs on Valentines’ Day, the sophisticated and sultry singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy and the quirky and intelligent The Little Unsaid.  I also do not want to miss the adaptations of 3 Bronte classics, Forest Forge’s illuminating and playful Leaves on the Line and Gerard Logan’s Oscar Wilde double bill.

As much as anything in the programme next season, I am looking forward to welcoming you to our special fundraising and 30th birthday celebration event, The Pearl Gala.


Like so many arts organisations, we face challenges with our funding and in our current facilities only a limited percentage of our income can come from box office and earned income.

In order for us keep the magic alive and to deliver more great art to more people, we need your support.  The Pearl Gala promises to be a brilliant evening and one to remember – as well as being an opportunity for you to help us continue to give the gift of the arts to Dorchester.

I truly believe that where the arts thrive, people and places do too.  And I know that without the arts in my life – and on my doorstep – I would be very much the poorer.       I am looking forward to sticking to my new New Year’s resolution this year and seeing as many Dorchester Arts’ performances as possible.  Not a difficult one to keep when there’s so much excellence on offer.


Arts Council Announcement

Dorchester Arts

Arts Council England has announced its decision in regard to the National Portfolio funding for arts organisations across the UK. While Dorchester Arts was unsuccessful in its application to remain within the NPO framework, Artistic Director Mark Tattersall says,

“Although we are of course disappointed not to remain part of the Arts Council National Portfolio it’s business as usual for Dorchester Arts as we have made sure that we are not reliant on one stream of funding alone. We have the support of so many other people and organisations – our Board of Trustees, our members, West Dorset District Council, Dorchester Town Council, our sponsors, volunteers and perhaps above all the ever growing audiences and participants who show us week in and week out how much we are valued by our local community. Our Arts Council funding continues for the next nine months and we are already discussing other funding routes with them outside the NPO framework. In the meantime we will be talking to all those who support us to make sure that Dorchester continues to have the arts at its heart all the year round”.

We remain optimistic for the future of Dorchester Arts and we look forward to welcoming you to our next exciting events of theatre, music and comedy. Click here to see What’s On.

Mon 20 – Sat 25 August • Combined Arts Week 2018

Aged between 10 and 18 years?

Combined Arts Week (CAW) 2018

Monday 20th August 2018 – Saturday 25th August 2018
Commitment for the whole week is required.
Age range: 10 – 18 years
Cost £125 (some assisted places available)
Performances Friday 24th and Saturday 25th.
Thomas Hardye School Theatre
Find out more…
Contact –


Every year in the summer holidays, Dorchester Youth Theatre host a week of drama and fun. CAW encourages young people to try out different skills and develop their confidence and make new friends, as well as having a lot of fun! The age range is 10-18 years.

More than 40 young people will be on stage or working behind the scenes and have just five days to work up to the two final performances. This includes casting, learning lines, songs, dance routines and of course set design and costume making – its intense but great fun which is why so many young people return year after year.  And after the age of 18 they often come back to help out!


Performances at Thomas Hardye School

Friday 24 August 7.30pm



Saturday 25 August 11.30am

Thurs 23 August • Rustle • Paddleboat Theatre

 PaddleBoat Theatre Company invites you help set up camp so that we can tell the greatest campfire story ever told: where sleeping bags evolve into monsters, rucksacks become friends and torches highlight the forest’s closest secrets.

 Join us for an interactive family adventure jam-packed with puppets, songs and outdoor surprises.

Age guidance 3+

Thursday 23 August
OUTDOOR THEATRE – Maumbury Rings
2pm (refreshments from 1pm)
£8 /£6 members & concessions / £25 family ticket (max. 2 adults)



Fri 31 August • Elles Bailey

 Elles Bailey impressed Dorchester audiences so much when she opened for Jo Harman at the Corn Exchange in spring 2017 that she now makes a welcome return with her own show.

Elles has a talent for crafting and seamlessly weaving rootsy blues, country, and soulful rock, with a contemporary edge. What’s more fate has blessed her with a ‘smoky vocal’ style that perfectly fits her music.

Reviewers have been wowed by Elles and her debut album, Wildfire. Maverick Magazine gave ‘Wildfire’ top marks (5/5) and went on to predict a glowing career for this talented artiste: “If Bailey can follow this album up with something equally as good as ‘Wildfire’, there’s no reason why she can’t hit the heights Swift did in country- and perhaps move even further up the country mountain than Swift did.”

“It’s a fact that very few make it to the big stage; Elles Bailey has the necessary talent, the drive, and now (with the release of album Wildfire) the product” Blues in Britain

 This is music that crosses genres because it is excellent.”… Elles Bailey Scorching Debut Album Wildfire is hot with husky vocals blending roots sounds from Blues, country & soul set to be Voice of The Blues.” Bluesdoodles

 “Definitely a talent to watch” Country Music Magazine

 “A Young woman blessed with an incredible voice” Powerplay Magazine

Elles will be supported on the night by Lady Nade, a blues, roots, soul and folk-influenced singer-songwriter from Bristol. Her voice speaks of lost cellars, smoky jazz and her songs sketch moments of emotional transformation.  Her debut album,‘Hard To Forget’ has been described as “Absolutely lovely” by Dermot O’Leary (BBC2) and “A satin cure for the soul” by Sam Bonham (BBC Introducing.)


Friday 31 August
Dorchester Corn Exchange
8pm (doors & bar 7.30pm)
£15 / £13 members & concessions


Fri 7 & Sat 8 September • Tipping Point • by James Cuthill and Vince Jones (CJ Productions)

  • Corn Exchange
  • Fri 7 & Sat 8 September
  • Fri 7: 19.30, Sat 8: 14.30 & 19.30
  • Accessible **
  • Suitability: All
  • £12 / £10

During the course of her first day at Grimley Recycling Centre, a young apprentice challenges and influences the individuals she meets, questioning personal relationships, honesty, truth and trust. Each of the individuals has reached a personal tipping point and the play explores how they are dealing with their changing circumstances.

Skillfully acted by a cast made up of local Dorset talent, this uplifting story of strength in the face of change will leave you with a strong sense of what it is to be a human being.

Proceeds from this production will be donated to Julia’s House Children’s Hospice and Dorchester Arts.

The Cast

The cast has been selected from a rich source of local talent.  Rob and Kitty Sansom are both members of Dorchester Drama and the New Hardy Players as is Tom Horsington.  Kitty is a product of the Dorchester Youth Theatre.  James Cuthill has performed with Dorchester Drama and The Martinstown Players as has Sarah Hayes and Tony Parkinson has taken leading roles in Wimborne Drama Productions. Rowen Seymour is an active member of the Dorchester Community Play Association and has performed in a variety of local productions.  Emma Hill has acted, directed, choreographed and written for a number of theatre groups as well as organizing and delivering theatre workshops. Emma is also directing this production.

Julia’s House

A percentage of the proceeds from the production will be donated to Julia’s House Children’s Hospice.  There is a strong connection between the story line and a children’s hospice and it would seem fitting for this connection to benefit this Dorset based charity.

CJ Productions

CJ Productions is a local drama group formed by James Cuthill and Vince Jones.  They have worked together on stage in a number of productions but this is their first writing venture together.

Vince has written and directed a number of pantomimes and plays and also co-written and directed a musical based on the 1943 evacuation of Tyneham.

** For full accessibility details, please contact Dorchester Arts’ box office 01305 266926

Wed 12 September • FB Pocket Orchestra and My Sweet Patootie

  • Corn Exchange
  • Wed 12 Sept
  • 20.00
  • Accessible **
  • Suitability: All
  • £12 / £10 / £5
  • 1 Hour 45 Mins

FB Pocket Orchestra deliver a diverse palette of sonic landscapes that hint at New Orleans, tea dances, Paris cafés, smoky nightclubs, hotel foyers and garden parties.

All the way from Canada, co-headliners My Sweet Patootie bring together vintage swing, country blues, folk and ragtime in an uplifting vaudeville-style show performed with tight vocal harmonies, instrumental virtuosity and humorous storytelling. ​​

Come along and enjoy a double-bill of music from a time when life appeared much simpler!

** For full accessibility details, please contact Dorchester Arts’ box office 01305 266926

Fri 14 September | I Capuleti e I Montecchi: Bellini’s tragic Romeo and Juliet ( Opera Holloway)

  • Corn Exchange
  • Fri 14 Sept
  • 19.00
  • Accessible **
  • Suitability: All
  • £19 / £17 / £5
  • 1 Hour 45 Mins

Dorchester favourites Opera Holloway return with a fresh new contemporary take on one of the most famous love stories of all times, Romeo and Juliet, as depicted by one of Opera’s true legends, Bellini.

Director Fiona Williams moves the action to 1950’s Naples; the stifling heat fans the flames of a budding romance. In this poor neighbourhood, controlled by the mafia, Romeo and Giulietta fight to unite their families and keep their relationship alive.

The cast features Sophie Dicks as Romeo and Callie Gaston as Giulietta, with a piano and string ensemble conducted by Lewis Gaston.

** For full accessibility details, please contact Dorchester Arts’ box office 01305 266926

Sat 15 September • First National Community Theatre Conference & Evening Social

  • Town Hall
  • Sat 15 Sept
  • 11.00 & 19.30
  • Accessible **
  • Suitability: All
  • £25 / £15 / £5

The First National Community Theatre Conference & “Different Stages” Social Evening

Hosted by Dorchester Community Plays Association (DCPA) with Dorchester Arts

Celebrating and challenging the craft and legacy of Ann Jellicoe 1927-2017 and DCPA Honorary Life President

In 1978 Ann Jellicoe founded the Colway Theatre Trust and created the Community Play genre. Over the last forty years thousands of people have experienced the joy and enrichment of participating in community drama.

This conference explores that legacy, the current state of community theatre and asks what might lie ahead.

We will welcome David Edgar, one of the UK’s leading political playwrights as our opening speaker and
Jon Oram, Artistic Director of Claque Theatre as key note speaker on the work of Ann Jellicoe.

The conference will be led by Stephanie Dale, playwright of
Spinning the Moon the 7th Dorchester Community Play. It will be an opportunity to hear and meet with theatre practitioners who are seeking to create community work in the current, very difficult funding climate.

Provisional programme timings to be confirmed)

11.00 – Coffee and registration

11.45 – Welcome address – Stephanie Dale
Three provocations – chaired by Nina Hajiyianni
The history and mode of the Ann Jellicoe model – David Edgar
Constraints of the form – Richard Hayhow
A new way of working – Sarah Weston

12.15 – Chair’s summary and questions from the floor

12.45 – 13.45 – Lunch

13.45 – 14.45 – Discussion Group A – The story so far – chaired by Rebecca Hillman
Panelists – Stephanie Dale, Jon Oram, Peter Cann and Peter Wild

Discussion Group B – Future models of working – chaired by Sarah Weston
Panelists – Richard Haylow, Andy Barret, Nina Hajiyianni and Steph Green

The panelists will each speak for 5 minutes and then invite discussion from the floor

Delegates will have the opportunity to attend both sessions

14.45 – Tea/coffee (Delegates change groups)

15.15 – 16.15 Discussion Group sessions A & B

16.15 – Summary and closing comments

16.45 – 17.45 “The Rising Generation – The works of Ann Jellicoe and onwards” – Jon Oram

19.30 – 22.00 “Different Stages” Social Evening – Drink on arrival, music, entertainment and bar

£25 – Delegates day and evening (lunch included) £15 – Students day and evening (limited availability) £5.00 evening only

To book your place please follow the link above, contact Dorchester Arts  on01305 266926 or Anne Jonathan 01305 269510 email:

** For full accessibility details, please contact Dorchester Arts’ box office 01305 266926

Sat 15 September • Sam Kelly’s Station House

  • Corn Exchange
  • Sat 15 Sept
  • 20.00
  • Accessible **
  • Suitability: All
  • £14 / £12

Sam Kelly’s Station House have been regular visitors to Dorchester Arts over the years – and with good reason. To quote BBC Radio 2’s Paul Jones, the band features “…some of the best – and I mean best – musicians in the UK. Or anywhere, come to that”

A “groove” band featuring three ‘lead’ singers and one of the country’s finest drummers, their musical catalogue is an eclectic fusion based firmly in the blues, including songs by Johnny Guitar Watson, Keb Mo, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Gary Moore, Stevie Wonder and Little Feat.

** For full accessibility details, please contact Dorchester Arts’ box office 01305 266926