All the Queen's Men
Images by John Rose. Videography by Brunton Media.

Congress, Salisbury

Salisbury Cathedral (Wiltshire Creative)

A citizens’ assembly. A series of first speeches from those often unheard. Personal visions for our collective future.


There is no way to start approaching answers to anything, without listening. When someone tells you their story there is humanity and power in the telling. But it empowers the listener too. How often have we found things in common with people who don’t sound like us? How often have we ended up solving something because another person made us look at the problem differently? 

Listening is political; whom we choose to listen to, and under what circumstances, are powerful choices that determine culture and policy at every level. We can create a lot of good, or seed problems, based on the voices we choose or refuse to hear.

In 2020 Salisbury celebrated its 800th anniversary: 800 years since the realisation of a vision to move the city from a windy hilltop to lower, more hospitable land, starting with the laying of the foundation stone of Salisbury Cathedral. It is in this iconic venue that CONGRESS will share new, diverse visions for the city and for how to move forward together purposefully and positively. 

This citizens’ assembly connects the personal with the political. Community citizen Speakers are matched with professional Wordsmiths. Together, they collaborate to write and deliver ‘first political speeches’; personal visions for our collective future. Taking the form of a ritualised performance, intersected with community and cultural dance, this project unashamedly encourages citizens to agitate for change and transformation. 

Creative Team

Concept and Direction: Tristan Meecham and Bec Reid.

Producer and Stage Management: Anna Pidgeon

Composer, Lighting and Sound Design: Nick Roux

Lighting Designer: Bosco Shaw

Co-Curator and Take Part Director: Louise Dancy

Take Part Team: Gjenya Cambray, Francesca Myles, Georgia Norbury, Clare Threadgold and Elise Williamson

Production Manager: Sarah Bath

Wiltshire Creative Producer: Fiona Curtis

Marketing Consultant: Lyndsey Harvey at Landon Marketing

Set Construction and Painting: Tim Reed, Daniel Gent and Rod Holt 

Senior Technician (Sound and Video): Michael Scott

Deputy Technical Manager: Dave Marsh

British Sign Language Interpreter: Trianna  

Wordsmiths: Dr. Olu Taiwo, Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa, Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh, Veronica Dewan, Jayne Woodhouse, Hannah Treadaway, Jeremy Davies, Roger Monk and Russ Tunney. 

Citizen Speakers: Clare Christopher, Johannes Oghoro, Ruslan Kuvanyshev, Monwara Ali, Jack Cunningham, Jess Moore,  Patience and Neal Dreyer and Andrew Powlesland.

Movers: Panthera Dance Company, Dance SIX-0, Kateryna Barvitska-Kuvanysheva, Mrs Joshna Prasanth and Salisbury Malayalee Association and Stage 65 Youth Theatre.


Audience Quotes

Working with ATQM has been in incredible experience  The Take Part team at Wiltshire Creative are the better for it and how we work will never be the same, this opportunity is priceless.

Congress is a unique community platform, bringing together the richness of our communities in one creative space to challenge and celebrate. Enabling the community to have ownership of a space such as Salisbury Cathedral in such an authentic way is unrivalled, the value to the community is immeasurable.  Our community felt heard, seen, supported and valued by all present in an experience which will remain with us all for a long time to come.

Congress demonstrates that community performance equals, if not exceeds that of professional performance in quality and impact.

Louise Dancy – Wiltshire Creative Take Part Director

After the 29th of October, I can safely say I gained something I had been working towards all my life, and that is a voice. With the overwhelming amount of support I had received, I felt like I was not alone and like I mattered, a feeling only amplified by the opportunity to share the experience with so many other amazing people!” Jack participant.

Jack Cunningham – Congress Speaker

Congress opened my eyes to ways in which community projects of this calibre can be both life-affirming and life-enhancing, for participants and creatives alike. It had a profound effect on audience members, who still share with me how much they gained from being part of such a unique experience.

ATQM treasured and nurtured every one of the participants, by making us all part of their creative vision and bringing the depth of their international experience to a new community. 

The project presented a powerful model for how the arts can change lives, and I will continue to build on what I’ve learned from this experience in my future work.

Jayne Woodhouse – Congress Writer

Rarely have I been so moved, energised and inspired by a piece of art and I wanted to say thank you for your collaboration and care when working with Wiltshire Creative and the local community of Salisbury. 

I have worked closely with the Wiltshire Creative in the past and seen countless productions but never have I seen such a representative, diverse and engaged audience as I saw on Saturday night. It was incredible to see such a varied cross section of the Salisbury community brought together – every audience member listening intently to every word spoken. 

The inspiring speeches have stayed with me since Saturday – each one beautifully crafted and so poignantly delivered. 

I saw some school Mom’s in the audience who were there primarily to watch their sons/daughters dance. I caught up with one yesterday who told me how she went simply to watch her child dance but left having cried, laughed and feeling like ’she understood the people of Salisbury in a way she has never done, even after living here for 20 years’ and ‘I didn’t realise the ‘Playhouse’ did stuff like this!’ – brilliant! 

Your collaboration with Wiltshire creative provided something fresh, exciting, innovative and deeply moving. Thank you for helping craft something new for Salisbury. 

Darren Neale – Audience member


This presentation was supported by the UK/Australia Season Patrons, the British Council, the Australian Government and Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund as part of the UK/Australia Season 2021-22 and the Australia Council for the Arts.

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