Sunday, 2 May 2010

Oh What A Lovely War!

Spent all of yesterday at Richmond Theatre pushing on with the 110th Anniversary project. The young writers began to plan their initial interviews and we talked loosely about the way we might structure the piece. I was pleased to see how much had been learnt from last weeks Oral History training, but equally it was good to see some independence in the way they now want to approach the job in hand.

The ghost of Frank Matcham, the architect behind the sumptuous design of this, and hundreds of other turn of the century theatres, was proposed as a narrator figure to hold the various interviews together. It's too early to fix anything down, but it was certainly a strong opener.
In the afternoon we went to see Northern Stage's excellent touring version of Oh What A Lovely War! I'd forgotten what a pioneering play it is and what a fearless and innovative company Theatre Workshop were. They created a completely new way of approaching documentary drama and re affirmed the right for the theatre to be theatrical rather than stuck within the parameters of social realism.

Afterwards Gary Kitching - who'd played the charismatic MC - generously came into the auditorium to meet us and talk about the way in which the company had researched the first world war in preparation for the show and how their findings had influenced the work. It's great that possibilities are opening up rather than closing down - now it's up to us to gather the material.

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