Curtain rises on Chronicle's archives

At the Hampshire Chronicle it is not so much a case of “hold the front page” as “break a leg” these days.

Staff at the paper believe they may be the first in the country to put on a stage show based on the stories which have made headlines in it over the years.

The show is described as “the funny bits, the sad bits and even a few songs” and was staged at Winchester’s Theatre Royal with the title, The Christmas Chronicles .

The script was drawn from the Chronicle’s 232-year-old archives and was performed by the Cheshil Theatre Group.

Chronicle editor Alan Cleaver said he got the idea while attending a stage show on a similar theme.

He said: “I thought, we could do this using material from our archives. After all, what is a newspaper reporting on week-in, week-out if it’s not drama? Presenting the material in a show rather than in a newspaper was just a different means of communication.”

The show included letters written to the Chronicle in 1914 by Hampshire soldiers who took part in the famous World War I truce on the Western Front.

Education correspondent, Lisbeth Rake, who also directs plays for the Chesil Theatre, took the material collated by Cleaver and his staff and turned it into a two-hour show.

The Christmas Chronicles was staged just weeks after the Chronicle moved from its home of nearly 200 years.

The new offices are five minutes from the middle of Winchester, but the paper is retaining a small city centre office shared with sister paper the Southern Daily Echo.

By Dominic Ponsford

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