Never Better
September 7, 2019 - September 8, 2019

A partnership project between Strike A Light, Gloucestershire Archives, GUST and Gloucester History Festival.

7-8 September 2019: 1pm, 4pm, 7.30pm
Blackfriars Priory (as a part of Gloucester History Festival)


Over the last twelve months we have been working on a large scale project exploring the hidden history of mental health and lunatic asylums* in Gloucestershire as part of this year’s Gloucester History Festival in partnership with Strike A Light, GUST and Gloucestershire Archives. This year-long research project culminates in an incredible performance called NEVER BETTER at the historic Blackfriars Gloucester on the 7th and 8th September. The performances are free but you must reserve tickets.

NEVER BETTER will be simple, beautiful, haunting, and ultimately hopeful. Stories from the archives will be told through theatre, music, art and song put together and performed by a nationally renowned team; the audience will walk through Blackfriars experiencing a different performance in each room.  In addition, we have been working with a community gatherer gently collecting stories of modern day mental health, and these stories will be interwoven with our archive research.

Blackfriars, a 13th Century Dominican Priory provides an awe-inspiring venue in which to set the story of Gloucester’s Asylums.  The inside of the building will be transformed with sets and lighting to provide audiences with symbols and impressions of the different Asylum buildings, their rooms and outside gardens and will give a sense of what it might have been like to be a patient.

asylum and lunatic terminology taken from archive documents.


“This is one of the most striking creative endeavours to be performed in the City of Gloucester – this project delves deep into the history of the city’s Lunatic Asylums and honours patients who spent time in them. It is overlaid with stories from people in the city coping with mental illness today and I am sure the performance will make a profound impact on audiences. ”