21st October – Four unique acts capture the spirit of WWI
Scratch Night at Theatre Delicatessen is an evening of variety, ideas and fun; a chance to see artists present brave, new work at the first stages of development.
The four performances brought a real insight into the impact of WWI and how it affected the lives of people at home.
A new spoken-word performance – Anonymous Is A Woman – kicked off the evening. Reflecting on the life of a young women who could have known the families from Calmington Road, the poem by Koko Brown, in collaboration with director Tania Azevedo, compared local domestic life with the extraordinary news about Mata Hari who was shot as a spy on 15th October 1917.
Two of the scratch theatre pieces performed material written during the war. The Way To Win, from 1915, was a recruiting piece which toured through music halls across the country. It pulls all the patriotic strings to encourage young men to sign-up, to gain respect and love from family and friends. The second, God’s Outcast, a sombre piece from 1918, shows a heartbroken father and a young wife who have each lost a young man to the war. Meeting in a railway station waiting room they confide how much the loss means and how they cannot bear to continue to live. The contrast between the two plays is stark.
On a brighter note, We Have Been Gloriously Happy, written and performed by Beth Watson and Sadie Clark, presented a series of dialogues showing the new roles that women were taking on: suffragettes setting up local committees to support the war effort; women taking on the medical profession and establishing field hospitals; and munitions workers wondering what the future would hold once the men returned and took back the jobs after the war.
The performers had access to all our research about WWI and the lives of local people in south east London, especially Camberwell, where the Zeppelin air raid took place in October 1917. Theatre Delicatessen’s knowledge of new writers and performers brought these stories to life, showing the social impact of WWI to a new audience.
Posted by Susan Crisp, 9th November 2017