Performing the Somme

One of the most distinctive features about the most recent anniversary of the Somme is an increased emphasis on recreation. Previous posts have noted the media interest in the group of living historians helped by the National Army Museum who marched along the battlefront and attended commemorations, and the existence of a living ‘trench experience’ supported by English Heritage. This move seems to me to have resulted from three things: a growing concentration on ‘experiencing’ history, the attractiveness as a story/means of publicity  of ‘feeling’ the past, and a shift of the war into a category of historical events which we feel strongly about, but which are far enough away that they can be entertainment. It’s just been brought to my attention that the Imperial War Museum and the Old Vic are launching a project to allow local citizens to ‘bring the Somme to life’ in a series of performances at the IWM in mid-November. The project is supported by the National Lottery Fund. I only wish I lived in Lambeth so I could join. The press release reads:

Sunday 1 October
10am at the Old Vic stage door, Webber Street
The Old Vic Theatre, in partnership with the Imperial War
Museum, is inviting local residents to sign up for a role in
a brand new play commemorating the 90th anniversary of the
Battle of the Somme. Somme Theatre will see a community cast
exploring the realities of life on the front line and
presenting a nightly show from 15 to 19 November in the
Imperial War Museum's dramatic glass-roofed atrium.  The Old
Vic is looking for 85 volunteers to contribute to all
aspects of the project: both on and off stage. Lambeth and
Southwark residents willing to sign up for the war effort
should come to The  Old Vic (Stage Door) at 10am on Sunday 1
October for an informal audition. All ages welcome from 14
yrs upwards.  No experience is necessary just lots of

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