“We heard from those who had crossed that sea. One was a ship’s pilot who brought 88 refugees in a boat that usually takes 15 passengers. A fishing boat for 10 men brought 56 passengers. One refugee ship foundered in the channel, but nearly all were rescued.”
Syrian refugees fleeing to Lesbos? No, Belgians fleeing the devastation of their country in 1914.
In 1914 these refugees were welcomed in England. Towns mobilised to house, clothe and feed them. Even small villages took in a family.
The treatment of refugees is one of the themes in a show I’m putting on in Hertford on Saturday 21 November.
From a Time of War
Saturday 21st November 2015
St Andrew’s Church, Hertford
7.30pm – 9.30pm (doors open 7pm)
An evening of readings and songs, expressing the dreams and reality, hopes, fears and frustrations of those who experienced the First World War, at home in Hertford and at the Front.
WW1 themed raffle
Tickets from St Andrew’s: 01992 504373 firstname.lastname@example.org
or from Hertford Tourist Office: 01992 584322
Some photos from the rehearsals, most taken by the multi-talented Vickie Holden:
Three of our actors – (L to R) Julia Hallawell, Vickie Holden (in costume!), Charlie Abbott
Director Trevor Georges and Catherine Forrester
The last supper
John Holden White, playing Yesh, rehearsing with the cross
Late in the evening
Julia Hallawell as Mary
All on stage for the final scene (including me, but I was only reading in for an absent actor!)
Seeing It Through 15 November
Some images from the show, ‘Seeing It Through’ which was performed at Hertford Theatre Studio on 15 November 2014. Our small cast of five – Toni Brooks, Catherine Forrester (seen in the photo playing young Ware soldier Claud Sweeney in the trenches), Rob Madeley and Steve Scales, plus Director Richard Syms who also took the narrator role of the Editor of the Mercury, gave fantastic performances which were very well received by the audiences. (In the pic, left to right: Steve, Toni, Catherine, Rob).
Now we hope we can put it on again!
The story of how ordinary people lived through the First World War is worth telling. It is a powerful counter to the glorification and mythologising of war, while also revealing much about the roots of how we live our lives now.
‘Seeing It Through’ is the title of a new drama being written and researched by myself, Emma Blowers and Erin Thompson. We have set out to tell the story of life on the ‘home front’ in Hertford, Ware and the surrounding villages during the Great War, from 1914 to 1919.
We want to explore the First World War, rather than commemorate it. So much of our modern world began in that period, but that was not obvious to the people living through it, especially in a place like East Herts where ancient and modern ways of life were side by side. Getting hands in the field for the harvest was as much of a concern as sheltering from air raids.
Doing the research is a laborious but fascinating business and stories are taking shape. We aim to start off the project with an evening’s show in November, based on verbatim material from the time – letters, reports, newspaper editorials, songs and poems.
Our longer term goal is to do a full length play as a community production, with professional actors alongside local actors to tell what we think will be a moving, surprising and vibrant story.
[By the way, the handsome chap above doesn’t figure in the story. It is actually my grandfather, Raymond Miller, posing for a photograph in his new uniform and surprisingly fancy boots, before he left for the Front in 1916].
After the success of the first Introduction to Playwriting course, I’m running a new 10 week course for the autumn term, at Hertford Theatre.
The course will start on Monday 23 September and run to Monday 2 December, with no class on Monday 28 October (half term).
The classes are for anyone interested in writing for stage or screen – whether you have already written drama and want to develop your writing further, or whether you are taking the first steps. The sessions are very practical and a lot of fun. See the Playwriting Classes page on this site for more details or contact me on email@example.com