Hold Your Peace

Hold Your Peace is an original drama production by Headway Arts Inclusive Theatre Co.
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Following the end of the First World War, peace negotiations continued to be thrashed out in the corridors of power. In 1919 a summer bank holiday was declared in the UK and across the length and breadth of the land, from Blyth to Bristol, Lanark to Land’s End, massive community “Peace Tea” celebrations were held in the streets. The war to end all wars was over and hope for the future was bright. A united Europe with promises of prosperity, peace and opportunity for its citizens was just over the horizon. What better way to celebrate then, than with tea and scones?


Hold Your Peace

The drama takes us back to the summer of 1919 during preparations for a Peace Tea garden party to tell the thought-provoking tale of the impact the Great War (1914-1918) on the lives and loves of the residents of The Orchards, a fictional (but based in fact) long-stay institution for learning disabled people.
Most of the drama is set in the garden using strong dialogue, physical imagery, flashbacks and magical realism to tell the story. The horrendous loss of life during this period was unprecedented and brought devastating changes to those at home and this, of course, included learning disabled people – their story is rarely told.

Creative Director Allie Walton-Robson said: “We are looking back 100 years to discover the history of learning disabled people during this era which is not well documented. Some of the material is challenging – life was very different then. Our cast of 5 includes 4 learning disabled actors. We aim to question attitudes to learning disabled people and to highlight their abilities through the telling of this, their history. It’s a serious subject we treat with dignity to both move and entertain our audience.”



This ground breaking project was made possible by matching up development funding from Arts Council England Grants for the Arts and support from The Heritage Lottery Fund.

Heritage Lottery Fund supported the Where Were We? research project which created a unique resource and exhibition from the material uncovered during research with Northumberland Archives at Woodhorn, The Downs Syndrome Association, The Langdon Down Museum in London and other experts.

The support from Arts Council England through Grants for the Arts enabled us to use this research to create the original play.

Queen’s Hall Arts Hexham generously supported the development of the piece through a residency at Queen’s Hall, and by also hosting the World Premier to excellent reviews.


New For 2021: Hold Your Peace audio play

Hold Your Peace has been adapted for radio by Dave Napthine, performed by Headway Arts Inclusive Theatre Co. and recorded by Jason Thompson of Sound Ideas Media.


Listen for free online now:

 via Soundcloud

via Youtube

via Vimeo



life affirming stuff‘ Sound Ideas Media

heartwarming…Headway Arts really showcases talent and creativity ‘ Helen Richardson, BBC


Past Performances

  • The premiere performance of Hold Your Peace took place at Queen’s Hall, Hexham, on Tuesday 10th July 2018.
  • We performed Hold Your Peace on Thursday 22nd November 2018 as part of the GeNErosity Festival of Philanthropy and Giving in the North East. The festival celebrated and influenced the North East’s rich philanthropic tradition by telling the region’s story through a series of exciting events and activities. It highlighted our region’s past and allowed us to look forward to how we can come together through philanthropic acts, large and small, for the greater good of our region. To read more about the festival visit www.GeNErosityFestival.co.uk


Hold Your Peace is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and Queen’s Hall Arts

We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of all our funders which currently includes:

  • Arts Council England
  • Blyth Town Council
  • Community Foundation
  • Edward Gostling Foundation – RW Mann Trust – Shears Foundation
  • Erasmus+
  • Great Northumberland
  • Hadrian Trust – High Sheriff of Northumberland – Rothley Trust
  • Heritage Fund
  • National Lottery Community Fund
  • Northumberland County Council
  • Postcode Community Trust
  • Scope
  • Sir James Knott Trust
  • The 1989 Willan Trust – Wellesley Trust
  • the Coalfields Regeneration Trust