Our Work / Theatre / ATOM: A Tale of Matter

Cumbria’s Atomic Story


Artform: Theatre, Visual Art

Project partner: The Beacon Museum

Funders: Heritage Lottery Fund

Participants: Studio Theatre West, Seascale School, Distington School

An exploration of Cumbria’s Nuclear heritage, focusing on the life of scientist John Dalton. 

Studio Theatre members, together with pupils of Distington and Seascale Primary Schools researched the dramatic changes that took place as a result of the Nuclear Industry. Research included talks from and visits to the Beacon Museum, Sellafield Ltd., National Nuclear Laboratory, Manchester Museum of Science and Industry and Whitehaven Archives.

The project included a theatre production (ATOM: A Tale of Matter) performed at Rosehill Theatre, Mayfield SEN School and the Beacon Museum and an animation. Participants worked with artists to create costumes and the soundtrack.

The theatre production, “ATOM: A Tale of Matter” begins with Dalton’s death, he arrives in a surreal place where the birds gather and reflect on his life and achievements, culminating in the building of Sellafield. John Dalton’s doubts and fears grow through the production and come to a climax at the realisation of his science being used to create the atomic bomb. The production explores whether we can control what the future will do with our ideas and raises the question: “what if?”

The project culminated in an exhibition at the Beacon Museum showcasing the research, story development and animations that all contributed towards the production.

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