Neston Players Bringing Another Outstanding Drama to the Civic Hall
|Published: 31st October 2017 11:56|
"I were walking away from it Sir - that were t'most of it."
November sees Neston Players take to the stage in 'King and Country.' Martin Riley directs a tremendous cast of experienced actors in the amateur dramatic world.
Dan Short plays Hamp in 'King and Country'
‘'When putting on our Productions, a lot of research is done by the Director, Actors and Production Team'' says Cheryl Barker, one of the Production Co-ordinators for this play. ‘'Neston Players prides itself on being as authentic as we can be and to do justice to a script, the characters and the period of history during which a play is set. Here are some facts and key dates that we have found while researching for this play.''
'King and Country' is set during WW1, in the British Trenches at Passchendale. Between 1914 and 1918, the British Army identified 80,000 men with what would now be defined as symptoms of shell-shock. With no obvious end to the experiences and the issue of trench life being such a drain on morale, it is no wonder that some men cracked under the strain of constant artillery fire. Senior Military Commanders would not accept a soldier's failure to return to the front line as anything other than desertion.
- February 1917 - Voluntary food rationing introduced in Britain.
- April 1917 - Food Hoarding Order issued to prevent households from hoarding food in short supply
- June 1917 - Messines Ridge captured after huge underground mine detonated. Blast heard in London.
- July 1917 - Battle of Passchendaele commences Mustard Gas used for the first time by German artillery near Ypres.
- August 1917 - Last German daylight aeroplane raid on England. Wilfred Owen introduces himself to Siegfried Sassoon. Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and "Dulce et Decorum est" are written.
- September 1917 - First night time aeroplane raid on England. German submarine bombards Scarborough.
- October 1917 - Weeks of steady rain in Flanders reduces the battlefield to a quagmire.
- November 1917 - Passchendaele captured. Battle of Passchendaele ends. British casualties between July and November : 217,000 men.
Sitting in judgement. Members of the cast rehearse the court
In the production of 'King and Country', after enduring four years of battle Private Arthur Hamp one day walks away from the front. The army takes notice and Hamp is court-martialled for desertion. His guards, the officer defending him and the Padré all try to make Hamp realise the court could impose a death sentence, but Hamp has utter faith in his counsel and that the army will not bother with the likes of him.
Set in a time when shell -shock was not recognised, 'King and Country' will resonate with today's audience, familiar with the effects of war and post traumatic stress disorder. It is this contemporary parallel that gives the powerful and tragic play its continuing meaning and, with the inclusion of a classic courtroom drama, the audience will be deeply moved.
Costumes play a vital role in creating authenticity. Debbie Colclough is Costume Mistress for Neston Players. When asked about her approach, Debbie said: ‘'No two plays have the same approach to costume, even within the Centenary Project of War plays that we are producing. I always begin by reading the script, which may sound like a very basic ‘must do' thing, but I feel it is important to not watch a film or another production, because it might restrict my imagination.
"The next step is to discuss with the director their vision, and offer my ideas. From this, the costume plot will grow. I create a scene by scene spreadsheet detailing each cast member, their costume, and their measurements.
"I have learnt incredibly interesting historical facts with every war play that I have been costume mistress for. In 'King and Country' I learned that regiments in the trenches discarded their regimental badges so the enemy did not know who was in which trenches. They could have heard reports that East Lancs had been hit badly, spotted an East Lancs badge in a particular trench, and work out that it would not be well manned.
"There are many sources for costume: hiring; making; charity shops; players' own wardrobes; borrowing. For most plays it is a combination of all.''
Neston Players' production of "King and Country" will be performed at Neston Civic Hall from Wednesday 8th to Saturday 11th November. Doors open 7.00pm, performances begin at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at £9.00 for evening performances. Concessions (£7.00) are available for Wednesday and Thursday evenings only.
Tickets available from: The Brown Horse, Neston; My Gift Place, Neston; Neston Natural Health & Beauty Clinic, Mozkitos Coffee House in Parkgate.
Alternatively you can book online with NCYC by clicking the link on the website, www.nestonplayers.co.uk.