Students Staff

25 May 2016

Sharing Heritage: Voices of the Great War Past and Present celebrates £7,700 Heritage Lottery Fund grant

Heritage Lottery Fund
Poster for Voices of the Great War Past and Present

Poster for Voices of the Great War Past and Present

The University of Essex has received support from National Lottery players for the new project, Voices of the Great War Past and Present, it was announced today.

The £7,700 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will see young people learn about the First World War while creating new theatre performances based around the real-life personal testimonies of those who grew up in the shadow of the Great War.

The performances on Friday 24 June and Saturday 25 June will make a powerful connection between the youth of today and the young people of a century ago. University of Essex students and members of the Lakeside Theatre’s Youth Theatre and Young Company will be speaking words directly drawn from interviews undertaken by Professor Michael Roper, from the University of Essex, with people recalling their childhoods during the First World War and its aftermath.

Theatre director and LAMDA voice coach Robert Price will work with the young people to use modern ‘verbatim’ theatre techniques in the performances. This will include listening to original interview recordings through headsets while on stage and then immediately performing what they are hearing to the audience.

Theatre writer Annecy Lax, from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies will develop Professor Roper’s raw interviews into a working script with composer Gary Peacock transforming some of the text into a choral score.

"Totally unique performances"

Lakeside Theatre director Barbara Peirson said: “This funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund will allow us to create totally unique performances which will connect the performers and the audience with the continuing legacy of the First World War.

“Our pilot workshops at the Lakeside were incredible and had a profound impact on everyone involved. The young performers felt they had a direct, emotional connection to people of their own age from a century ago through the words they were hearing and then speaking.”

Professor Roper said: “As researchers we are looking forward to having the chance to watch these interviews from a different perspective, which brings alive and makes us think again about the First World War’s emotional and psychological legacy for families.

“These performances will also allow people to connect with our research and hear untold stories from the past that may well resonate with the experiences of their own families.”

"A strong connection to the past"

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “The impact of the First World War was far reaching - touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £77.5million in projects large and small that are marking the Centenary. Projects like Voices of the Great War create a strong connection to the past, and enable even more communities to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict, particularly in helping young people to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world”

Professor Roper will be closely involved in the project alongside colleague Dr Rachel Duffett, an expert on the social and cultural impact of warfare. Professor Roper and Dr Duffett are part of the Everyday Lives in War engagement centre funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and they will be helping the young people research the impact of World War One in the region and within their own families.

As part of their research the young performers will be completing visits to the Essex Regimental Museum in Chelmsford, Ipswich Records Office and Brightlingsea Museum and speaking to Wivenhoe History Group. The rehearsals and research process will also be filmed by a student film crew with the final performance recorded so it can be shared more widely. There are also hopes to undertake more performances later in the year.

More information

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery @HLFEoE

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