A brand new musical production celebrating school life in Blacon

Written by Helen Newall

Music by Matt Baker

Chester Cathedral, Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 October 2015

 best days

Following the success of last year’s Over By Christmas, Theatre in the Quarter (TIQ) is set to embark on another ambitious large-scale choral project which this time sees local people working alongside professional actors.  TIQ  – in partnership with Blacon Education Village and Homegrown Dance Theatre Company – have created Best Days Of Our Lives, a performance about the vibrant community of Blacon.   The piece is based on stories collected from pupils (past and present) at Blacon’s schools, many of which are about to be totally rebuilt.  The project aims to challenge the historical negative perceptions of the area, to raise aspirations and to create a sense of pride among the local community.  The production will be accompanied by a short film created by Chester-based Dee Digital.  The film will feature stories and music from the project and become a permanent resource and legacy for the Blacon community on its journey of renewal and regeneration.


Best Days Of Our Lives is the latest collaboration from TIQ’s Writer-in-Residence Helen Newall and Artistic Director Matt Baker.  An acclaimed playwright and librettist, Helen is also a Reader in Performing Arts at Edge Hill University and maker of sound and visual installation work.  Recent TIQ projects include Over By Christmas and Silent Night. Matt Baker’s recent compositions for the company include Alice, Silent Night and Over By Christmas.  His credits as a composer and musical director also include productions for the Dukes Playhouse, Lancaster; The Nuffield Theatre, Southampton and the highly successful Chester Mystery Plays 2013.  Homegrown Dance Theatre, led by Director Julia Williams, has collaborated extensively with Theatre in the Quarter, particularly with projects across the schools in Blacon.  Julia will be developing the dance elements of the piece with the young people.  The 200-strong company drawn from the community of Blacon will be led by actors Judi Jones,Rachael Rae and Francis TuckerJudi Jones’s extensive credits include Heartbeat, Fat Friends and the controlling Barbara Kirk in EmmerdaleRachael Rae has recently been seen playing the lead role in Mam I’m ‘Ere at the Royal Court, Liverpool. Francis Tucker is best known to audiences in the North West for his show-stealing performances as the Dame in the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Pantomimes.

“Theatre in the Quarter has an exceptional reputation for creating work which means something to communities that are often perceived as difficult to engage or ‘hard to reach’, providing inspiration and aspiration to so many.   They skillfully engage children and young people alongside intergenerational working through tireless and enthusiastic determination.  Blacon is a thriving community that has seen educational standards rise over the past ten years. Pupil numbers are buoyant and aspiration is high – yet we continue to battle perceptions that often hinder our quest to drive improvement. Theatre in the Quarter has a habit of leaving a legacy that is long-lasting and creates sustainable impact, and we believe Best Days Of Our Lives will genuinely instill pride, social cohesion, a sense of positive identity and celebrate the deserving regeneration the community is currently experiencing.”

Dave Williams, Chair of Blacon Education Village

Best Days Of Our Lives will take place at Chester Cathedral on Wednesday 21 October at 1.30pm and 7.30pm and Thursday 22 October at 7.30pm.  Tickets, priced £7 and £5 are available from Chester Cathedral by telephoning 01244 324756 or online  The project is made possible by generous support from Blacon Education Village, Avenue Services, Cheshire West and Chester Council and The Earl of Chester Trust.


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