Wales: 14-18 NOW28 / 03 / 2014
OWEN SHEERS AND NATIONAL THEATRE WALES COMMISSIONED TO MARK FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY
National Theatre Wales will present Mametz, a large-scale, site-specific production which will be performed in ancient woodland near Usk in Monmouthshire as part of the 14-18 NOW programme of special commissions by leading artists from Britain and around the world which will mark the centenary of the First World War as part of the UK’s official centenary commemorations.
The production which runs from 24 June – 5 July 2014 will give audiences a vivid glimpse into life and death in the trenches and on the battlefields of the Somme.
The Battle of Mametz Wood was one scene in the notorious Somme Offensive that claimed the lives of 300,000 men. A great number of those to fight and die in the Battle of Mametz Wood were Welsh, and its horrors remain embedded in the collective memory of that nation. The production is inspired by Owen Sheers’ poem Mametz Wood, recalling the battle in which 4,000 of the 38th (Welsh) Division were killed or wounded.
Sometimes referred to as ‘the poets’ battle’, among the soldiers who took part were several key Welsh and English war poets including Robert Graves, David Jones, Siegfried Sassoon and Llewelyn Wyn Griffith, and Sheers’ own great-great-uncle, William Cross.
14-18 NOW centres around three key moments: 4 August 2014 (Anniversary of the Declaration of War), July 2016 (start of the Battle of the Somme) and November 2018 (Centenary of the Armistice). The commissions announced today will focus on the first key moment and will take place from June to August this year.
The programme for 2104 includes the following projects across the UK:
Large-scale Participative Projects
Lights Out marks the moment when Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914. In one of the most dramatic UK-wide events ever staged, the British public will be invited to turn off their lights to remember a day that changed the world forever. Artists are being specially commissioned to create free digital light works which the public can download. There will also be a series of site-specific works in a number of locations across the UK. (28 June – 4 August 2014).
Letter to an Unknown Soldier is a new kind of war memorial: one made only of words, and by thousands of people. The project, created by Kate Pullinger and Neil Bartlett, is inspired by Charles Jagger’s famous statue in Paddington Station of a soldier reading a letter. Everyone in the UK is invited to pause, take a moment or two, and write that letter. All of the letters will be published online for everyone to read alongside contributions from 50 leading writers and held in the British Library’s web archive. Produced in association with Free Word and in conjunction with the BBC. (28 June – 4 August)
Free Outdoor Events
The streets of Liverpool will be the setting of one of the most remarkable events of the 2014 centenary when a new production by the world-renowned street theatre company Royal de Luxe will use their spectacular giants to retell the story of the Liverpool Pals and King’s Regiment, the young men who signed up with their friends, colleagues and neighbours to defend Britain on the battlefields of Europe (23 – 27 July 2014).
100: The Day Our World Changed is a large-scale community project which brings together people in three villages in Cornwall connected by the Lost Gardens of Heligan Estate – Mevagissey, Gorran and St Ewe. The event is inspired by local archive and by the tragic memories and haunting memorabilia of local people whose forefathers used to work on the Heligan Estate. Of the twelve who enlisted, nine never returned. (3 August 2014)
Dazzle Ships – Liverpool Biennial, the UK Biennial of contemporary art, Tate Liverpool and 14-18 NOW are co-commissioning one of the great figures of contemporary art, Carlos Cruz-Diez to paint a version of a ‘Dazzle Ship’ in partnership with National Museums Liverpool. The “Edmund Gardner” vessel is conserved by Merseyside Maritime Museum and will be “dazzled” in dry Dock adjacent to Albert Dock Liverpool. In London, the HMS President, which was formerly a Dazzle Ship during the First World War will also be ‘dazzled’ by a contemporary artist commissioned by Chelsea College of Art.
Dazzlepainting was a system for camouflaging ships that was introduced during the First World War and was made famous by artists including Edward Wadsworth and the Vorticists. (June 2014)
1914 Day by Day Cartoons is co-commissioned with BBC Radio 4. The celebrated historian Margaret Macmillan will select news reports from that same day 100 years ago and leading cartoonists and graphic artists from both the UK and Germany including Steve Bell, Ralph Steadman and Posy Simmonds will respond to the events of each week (28 June – 4 August).
Inspired by the landscape on which the British military conducted its early experiments in flight, Scottish-born artist Anya Gallaccio will create a new installation for the Aldeburgh Festival’s visual arts programme SNAP, in two locations in Suffolk – at Orford Ness and at Snape Maltings. During the First World War the recently formed Royal Air Force conducted trials in aerial photography and bombing at secret testing grounds on Orford Ness, to which the artist now returns.
Art on the Underground is the first in a series of three poster commissions by artists to commemorate the First World War and the Underground, timed to coincide with 14-18 NOW’s seasons in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The first of these is a commission to artist Richard Wentworth on the theme of communication in the First World War.
Shot at Dawn – award-winning photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews will present a series of images of the locations at which British, French and Belgian troops were executed for cowardice and desertion during the First World War. Dewe Mathews’s photographs were taken as close as possible to the precise time when the shootings took place. The works will be shown at Stills: Scotland’s Centre for Photography and Tate Modern in winter 2014 and tour internationally in 2015 and 2016.
A special Late Night Prom featuring a significant new work will be held on the actual anniversary of the Declaration of War on 4 August 2014. The Late Night Prom will be part of the BBC coverage on 4 August and will link to the ‘Lights Out’ project. (Royal Albert Hall: 4 August 2014).
The celebrated German composer Torsten Rasch and the Philharmonia Orchestra will present the world premiere of a major 40-minute work for choir, soloists and orchestra that sets the poetry of the First World War to music. Commissioned jointly by the Three Choirs Festival and Germany’s Chemnitz Opera, where it will also be performed, A Foreign Field features singers from both companies. The work sets verses by the Dymock Poets to music, including texts by Robert Frost, Edward Thomas and Rupert Brooke. The piece will have its German premiere in spring 2015. (Worcester Cathedral: 31 July 2014).
Live Music Now will bring older people, both those living independently and those in residential care, together with young professional musicians. The memories of older people attending lunch clubs or in residential care homes will be recorded and used as source material and inspiration for a new song suite. The new work will be performed both in care homes and on tour. (August 2014)
14-18 NOW’s partnership with WOMAD includes a commission to a band from Zimbabwe to make new songs which will be premiered at UK WOMAD and toured internationally to WOMAD festivals around the world. In addition, the festival will feature Letter To An Unknown Soldier. (24-27 July 2014)
Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. His 14-18 NOW commission is to write four songs reflecting on the First World War which will be performed on a UK tour in July/August. He will add further songs for a full work to be presented in 2016.
After A War: LIFT has invited 25 artists and companies from across the world to think about the global impact and legacy of the First World War alongside contemporary issues of war and peace. Theatre companies, poets and an avant-garde cabaret band are among those who will address subjects as varied as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, conscientious objection, the division of the Middle East, colonialism, civil war in Africa and drone strikes. The programme begins at the Southbank Centre and culminates with a three-day takeover of Battersea Arts Centre, the scene for the trial of many conscientious objectors during the First World War when it was Battersea Town Hall. (24-26 June & 27-29 June 2014)
The Forbidden Zone: Leading British theatre director Katie Mitchell and playwright Duncan Macmillan present a new play about a family of German scientists who become embroiled in the manufacture of chemical weapons during the First World War. Commissioned by the Salzburg Festival and live streamed to the Barbican in partnership with 14-18 NOW. (5 August 2014)
Charlie Ward: Sound&Fury’s performance is inspired by the fact that Chaplin shorts used to be screened on the ceilings of hospitals for the war wounded. The audience will lie in hospital beds, watching excerpts from a Chaplin short film and listen to a sound world that resonates with echoes from the war and memories of home. It is the subjective sonic world of a patient in a field hospital removed from the front. (23 –27 July & 30 July – 3 August 2014)
‘Goodbye to All That’: One of Britain’s most eminent poets and respected literary figures, Lavinia Greenlaw, invites 10 writers from countries involved in the First World War to respond to the title of Robert Graves’ famous book. Each takes the poignant phrase Goodbye to All That as a starting point for a personal reflection on the aftermath of war, as well as on the continuing struggle for artistic freedom in the face of conflict in all its forms. The new essays will be presented in a variety of formats: on radio, in an anthology from Pushkin Press, online and in readings/talks given at the British Library and elsewhere in the UK.
Lemn Sissay/The Verbal, Derry/Londonderry: The acclaimed poet Lemn Sissay will take up residency at this exciting Northern Ireland literature centre, creating a new performance piece and working with the city’s young people on themes around the First World War. (July 2014)
Does it Matter? – Disability and the First World War: Nearly two million British men returned from the First World War with a permanent disability. Disabled veterans were among the most visible legacy of the war, and their unprecedented numbers changed the way that the general public, and the state, understood disabilities. In a series of short films, five contemporary disabled artists present unorthodox, irreverent and unexpected takes on the legacies of war and disability in Britain today. (August 2014)
BalletBoyz: Young Men present an excerpt of its much-anticipated new full-length show Young Men as part of an evening of dance at The Roundhouse. Drawing inspiration from images of the First World War and war through the ages, Young Men explores the theme of war and the bond that forms between the men that train and fight together. Choreographed by Iván Pérez with an original score by composer and musician Keaton Henson, the performance features film and projection by BalletBoyz. (31 July & 1 August 2014)
To deliver the commissions, 14-18 NOW is working in partnership with cultural organisations across the UK including the British Library, MAC Belfast, Live Music Now in Scotland, Roundhouse, WOMAD, Philharmonia Orchestra, Free Theatre, Aldeburgh Festival, National Theatre Wales, Liverpool Biennial and Tate Liverpool among others. It is also seek to collaborate and work in partnership with many of the countries that took part in the First World War.
14-18 NOW is a member of the First World War Centenary Partnership and an independent programme hosted within Imperial War Museums.
The BBC is a key partner and will present a number of projects as part of the programme including events as part of the BBC Proms. Channel 4 is also involved.
The 14-18 NOW programme is funded by £10 million granted from the National Lottery including The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England (ACE) which are contributing £5million each.
Jenny Waldman is the Director of 14-18 NOW.
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