A Chester theatre company took audiences back in time by bringing stories, letters, postcards, pictures and artefacts from the First World War in Cheshire back to life.
Theatre in the Quarter shared its new piece of theatre For The Fallen with packed audiences at St Mary’s Creative Space in Chester.
The company was commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council to bring to life the many stories, letters, postcards, pictures and artefacts that were collected during the Cheshire Great War Roadshows in 2013 and 2014.
Playwright and multimedia artist Helen Newall worked closely with Nigel Meyrick from Chester’s Grosvenor Museum in developing a script which breathed life into many of the diary entries and letters of soldiers and nurses from Cheshire during the First World War.
The theatre piece also included a multimedia animation which combined many of the pictures of Cheshire veterans and nurses who served during the war.
The piece was performed by a company of young people who had taken part in a summer theatre project at St Mary’s Creative Space.
The piece also included a new musical score in the form of a People’s Requiem composed by Matt Baker which was performed by the company’s choir. Soundscape was added by Karen Lauke.
Playwright and director Helen Newall said: “The ambition for this project is to create a large scale theatre project for the people of Cheshire to mark the end of the centenary commemorations in Autumn 2018. We would hope that this would be staged with a large company of actors, singers and musicians in a prestigious venue, or maybe several venues across the county.”
She added: “It was a privilege to be able to delve into this amazing archive of precious letters, diary entries and photographs, and an even greater privilege to be able to share these memories in such a special way.”
Artistic director and composer Matt Baker said: “We have had such a special time working with these talented young people who were totally committed to the project. They were joined by a chorus of adult singers, making this a truly cross-generational experience. We had only invited a modest number of people to share the work, and so we were delighted when so many of the general public came to experience what we had been working on.”
Matt added: “We invited the audiences to offer their reactions in a post performance feedback session, and the response was overwhelmingly positive; we feel totally encouraged that this project should now be developed into something significant for Cheshire in 2018; a very ‘Cheshire-specific’ conclusion to the commemorations of this dreadful time on our recent history, and something which people of all ages can be part of.”
For The Fallen was made possible by a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund.