Reflections - Our Great War
The John Peel Theatre is fast gaining a reputation for putting on quality shows which are different from the run of the mill, from the whacky and energetic “Toad of Toad Hall” to the dark and edgy “Collector”
Last week Wigton Theatre Club presented something different again- a true community show. “Reflections- Our Great War” was devised and written by a group of more than twenty people, including singer/song writer Hayden Dunstan and local writers Owen Lightburn, Liz Bell and Connie Jensen.
“On Saturday I’m willing, if you’ll only take the shilling, to make a man of any one of you”
These provocative lines, sung in music halls up and down the country in 1914, opened the show, and just as in 1914, young men (actors seated in the audience) queued up to volunteer for a war that they didn’t understand, and which changed their world for ever. Haunting poems from World War One and short scenes- from the trenches and from the home front- alternated with original music and old favorites, to create a show which was moving, entertaining and thought provoking. Kath Graham told the heart-breaking story, in Cumbrian dialect, of her peace-loving great uncle who didn’t want to kill anyone, but was killed himself. The surprising facts behind the writing of “Pack up your troubles”, and the poignant story of a cleaning lady who pretended she had a son, dominated the second act.
The finale, with the whole cast on stage, singing “Heroes”, followed by the Last Post, left many of the audience and cast with moist eyes.
The many appreciative comments from the audience not only mentioned the show’s emotional impact, but the fact that it focused on Wigton and the surrounding area. With another four years to commemorate the Great War there could be more stories about local folks. If you have any stories that need to be told, please contact Connie Jensen or Dennis Graham and the theatre will start on a new show!
If we write and reflect on the Great War, we do so because the choices and fates of our ancestors still hold meanings for us today. Lessons we should learn.
The Wigton and District Observer