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  •  New production brings war poetry from the last hundred years to the stage
  •  Searing stories from World War One to contemporary Afghanistan and Iraq
  • Based on the Bloodaxe Books anthology The Hundred Years’ War

A new stage production will give a fresh voice to war poetry from the last hundred years. In The Hundred Years’ War: the Somme to Afghanistan, 35 poems are performed by three actors, each chronicling times of war and conflict, with verse from aggressor and victim, soldier and civilian. The Hundred Years’ War fuses poetry and theatre to create a unique performance, vividly enacting profound human experiences of war.

The show offers stories of war from across the world, from the trenches of the Somme to the horrors of the Second World War and the Holocaust, and in the Middle East, Vietnam, Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s the first time that many of these poems have been heard in the UK. Produced by Midlands Creative Projects in association with the Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Bloodaxe Books, The Hundred Years’ War is based on the eponymous anthology of poetry edited by Neil Astley, published by Bloodaxe Books in 2014.

Jonathan Davidson, Executive Producer of The Hundred Years’ War, commented: “The intention is to present poetry in a new way, stepping away from the traditional recitation of verse and instead performing the poems so that they become rich with life. That old perception of poetry as something that has to be studied stops people from realising just how good it really is. The material we are working with is so visceral, so heart-breaking, that it deserves to be performed to maximum impact.”

Amongst the poems chosen for The Hundred Years’ War are French and German views of trench warfare in World War One and visions of life on the home front in the Second World War. There are searing personal accounts of loss and violence in Bosnia, and the words of a Vietnamese fighter who has shot a friend from childhood, the old ties severed by war. A Taliban fighter’s voice is heard in writing from the present-day conflict in Afghanistan. Reflecting on a century of warfare, the British-Pakistani poet Imtiaz Dharker writes about Malala Yousafzai and the eternal fight for quality and freedom in the world. Amid the seemingly unending violence of war, there are glimmers of hope and a wish for peace.

The Hundred Years’ War is produced by Midland Creative Projects (Jonathan Davidson, Executive Producer, and Antonia Beck, Producer) and Bloodaxe Books in association with The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, with funding support from Arts Council England. It is directed by Steve Byrne (Interplay, Leeds) with set and costume design by Janet Vaughan and music and sound design by Derek Nisbet (both of Talking Birds). It is performed by Jill Dowse, Miriam Edwards and Zachary Price.

The Hundred Years’ War takes place in the New Great Hall theatre studio on Friday 09 October and tickets are still available

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