Tag Archives: The First World War

The Tree Of More

19 Sep

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It’s been quite a week.  We spent all of Saturday afternoon at The Tree of War rehearsal, filming and photographing background stuff.   Monday evening we were at the press preview; the show opened on Tuesday.  It is phenomenal.  

I can’t tell you how good this new piece of theatre is: the music, the lyrics, the story.  And to see it acted and sung with such passion and enthusiasm; to hear the wonderful music from the live band; to come out crying after every single performance…there is no one involved in this production who doesn’t believe that it is something special, something above the ordinary.

One of the most consistent comments – though you heard it here first, last year – is that it belongs on a West End stage.  As I stand behind my camera each night and listen to the audience as they file out, many sobbing into their snotty tissues – men and women – I hear them saying it over and over.  People with no connection to the show rave about it; and they are right to do so.

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Some reviews, personal and professional:

Ollie Mills’ and Rachel Mann’s masterpiece is beautifully poignant, thought-provoking and utterly authentic.

Chris Oatway, North West End

Scottish hard man Dougie (Jamie Rahman) gives a sweet rendition of ‘Being A Lad,’ and it’s a stony individual indeed who won’t be moved to tears (as I was) by the heartbreaking climax.    4 *

  Philip Caveney, Bouquets & Brickbats

I thought Alex really brought out the personal, but also universal, pain and intensity of the WWI horrors. As the show progressed, he displayed real pathos – having been excellent too in the earlier, happier, scenes. I thought both he and Sam made very strong leads. But then I felt the whole cast was strikingly good – having, I judge, been brilliantly prepared by [Ollie].   

A personal email to Paul from Roderic Dunnett, a professional reviewer, whose official review will be out shortly

Comments left on the official The Tree of War Facebook page:

Went to see one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen today! Well done to all the Cast and Crew of The Tree of War you were AMAZING! You completely reduced me to tears.

Amazing piece of theatre! Really powerful.

Just got back from watching The Tree of War what a fantastic play each and every cast member played a brilliant part, it should go on TV or all around the country, well done to all of you, it was just brilliant.

It was, quite simply, one of the most powerful pieces of theatre I’ve seen. Oliver Mills’ score is brilliant and if he and Rachel Mann don’t make a cd I shall be really disappointed. The cast were all fantastic. Sam Gilliatt and Alex Cosgriff in particular. Remember Alex’s name. He’ll be winning Olivier awards one day. I don’t know if they have any tickets left, but if they do and you’re free, go!

Ollie Mills’ music was quite amazing.

If you live in the area, today is your last chance to see it.  There are a few tickets left for the matinée and evening and they are on special offer at £5 each on the door.  But booking online will guarantee you a seat.

Trust me: go if you can.  If you don’t, you will always regret missing the start of something big.

Open Casting Call

24 Mar

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If you live in the Greater Manchester area you might be interested in this from The Tree of War website:

Now Casting Actors and Crew

The team behind September 2014’s show once again head up the production of this new, extended show. Composer Oliver Mills will return to Direct and Produce, whilst Writer Rachel Mann will share Production duties.

The show calls for a cast of 18+ performers and a 12-piece orchestra. There are backstage and crew positions in departments including, but not limited to, Art, Design, Set Building, Stage Management, Front of House, Publicity and Tech.

For Casting, there will be a number of Audition dates in the coming weeks. We welcome anyone of any age and experience to audition.

Rehearsals will take place throughout the summer. Involvement in the show may require commitment from April, and will require regular availability during August and September.

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Check the website for more details.

That Was The Week That Was (II)

22 Aug
The Hub in pre-rabbit days

The Hub before he was brutally savaged by a rabbit

The story so far: one broken husband and one disdainful rabbit combine to make one weary of constant Ow-ow-ows from the Hub.

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Monday 11 August

My monthly visit to Write Out Loud at the art gallery, an open mic poetry night.

The Hub refused to go to A&E.

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Tuesday 12 August

Tea and toast with Friend Pam at Olive Café in Edgeley, a joint-church venture which is doing remarkable well.

The Hub refused to go to A&E between his groans.  I began to feel a tad irritated.

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Wednesday 13 August

The Hub refused to at least visit the doctor but had me feel up his swollen shoulder.  I began to plot ways of making his suffering even worse.

Spud went out to a pre-results party with his friends so they could all be nervous together instead of in their separate homes.

DSCF1367The Hub and I went to church. 

Yes, you did that read that right – the arch-atheist Hub and I went to church.  New Chapel in Denton where, the Hub had discovered via the magic that is the internet, his great-uncle John Ellor, who died in Egypt in 1918, had his name on the Sunday School Roll of Honour for those who died during the Great War.

A wonderful couple – she works as the church secretary – called Christine and Barry pulled out all of the old records and we found lots of relatives from the Hub’s father’s side – and his grandparents’ 1927 marriage certificate.  To actually touch their signatures was emotional even for me, who has no blood connection.  It’s the first time the Hub has had a good time in church since he married me 29 years ago.

Ah!  Just realised why he’s never been back…

2:15 a.m.

I woke up to hear the Hub creeping downstairs…on his way to A&E to get his swelling checked out.  He was in agony and unable to sleep.  It was worth going in the middle of the night to avoid the I-told-you-sos, and because it took less than an hour for the Hub to be checked over, x-rayed and told that his scapula might be broken but he was so badly bruised that it was impossible to tell.  Take ibuprofen and try not to be too smug in your wife’s face or you might end up back here with  a definite broken scapula.

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Thursday 14 August

Morning

Made with love

Made with love

Results day.  Spud arrived home exhausted but too excited to sleep; and starving.  He had a breakfast of 2 eggs and 3 toast followed by 6 lots of cheese and crackers.

Spud slept all day.

Evening

Spud’s friends arrived for drinks-before-the-real-boozing-starts-in-town (Manchester) celebration.  We have known most of the boys for the last seven years and they are a lovely lot, so we cracked open a bottle of champagne with them, drinking from paper cups because Spud insisted.  Then we went off to bed and they went out about ten p.m.

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Pre-drinks before the real drinks

Pre-drinks before the real drinks

Friday 15 August

6:05 a.m.

Spud crept in.  Spud slept all day.

9:15 a.m.  I went out for the day to Llandudno, on the church charabanc. 

I went on a boat!  A three-year old girl loved it; her older brother screamed the whole time. 

I went on the beach as the tide came in.  So I wasn’t on the beach for long.

A beautiful Welsh beach

A beautiful Welsh beach

I went on the country’s longest pier – a mile and a half, I think. 

I went on the tuppeny slots, just like I did on Welsh holidays as a child. 

I discovered you can’t slice a scone without a knife but it tastes just as good when buttered, creamed and jammed with a spoon. 

I got home at six-thirty and I was in bed thirty minutes later.*

If I'd had the money, I would have bought the boys - all three of them - one each of these onesies

If I’d had the money, I would have bought the boys – all three of them – one each of these onesies

Saturday 16 August

Tory Boy phoned: I’m at the hospital with suspected appendicitis.

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Come back soon for the final, exciting instalment – is Tory Boy fit to burst?

 

That Was The Week That Was (I)

19 Aug

 

Such a good looking boy...

Such a good looking boy…

Hello Readers.

I don’t know if you remember me – I used to blog.  I’ve been so busy lately, however, I haven’t had a chance – well, we’ve had a couple of weeks here at Tilly Bud Towers!  A bruised scapula from chasing a rabbit; a septic appendix; and a hysterical teenager.  Not to mention exam results and poetry readings.  I’ll break it down into diary form or it will take up a third of the page just to repeat, ‘…and on Suchaday we…’  It will probably take a couple of days to regale you – you know I can never make a long story less than Lord of the Rings length.

Saturday 9 August

In the week prior to a week-last-Saturday, First World War anniversary fever hit me hard.  The Hub, Spud and I attended a candlelit walk around the park on Monday 4th, along with several hundred others, following a piper and six flag-wielding WWII veterans.  A short service followed before the Last Post was played, and all candles were extinguished at eleven p.m., to signal the moment one hundred years ago when Britain began to be at war with Germany.  It was incredibly moving.

I don’t know if my non-Brit readers know the story of Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, but it is worth repeating:

A friend came to see me on one of the evenings of the last week […]. We were standing at a window of my room in the Foreign Office. It was getting dusk, and the lamps were being lit in the space below on which we were looking. My friend recalls that I remarked on this with the words: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

From Grey’s memoir, published in 1925

DSCF1354To commemorate the start of the war, my church held an open morning with the theme, The Lamps Are Going Out.  As I was one of two people organising it, I spent the whole week working with my friend Pam The Great Administrator (she’s amazing and must only be spoken of in capital letters in my hearing) to collect artefacts, set up a slide show, arrange for costumes, rehearse poems and heavily promote the event.  The last bit worked especially well because we more than quadrupled our usual Saturday morning numbers.  Actually, it was even more than that, only I don’t know the correct term for ‘five times as many people came into church than is usual’.

We expected two tables of old bits on display but we had six.  Some people brought a table’s worth alone, and stayed with their stuff to chat to visitors and explain the (fascinating) history.

Pam baked delicious Anzac biscuits.  The children decorated glass candle holders.  We had period music playing in the background.  And Spud and I gave two readings of poems written between 1914-1919.  The whole event was a huge success, not least because it reminded us of what was sacrificed, at home and abroad.  Spud remarked to me that, as he was just eighteen, if he’d been born a hundred years ago he would probably have been off to war with all of his pals.  A sobering thought.DSCN3284

Sunday 10 August

Morning

Church followed by Stockport Writers.  It was my turn to chair.  I wanted to take the August meeting so I could use the theme, The Start of the War.  I hadn’t considered, three months earlier when I put down my name, that it came back-to-back with yesterday’s event and I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of Thursday night, realising that I had nothing prepared.  Two hours and one irritable Molly later, it was done: I pared fictional and actual events down to their bare essentials – e.g. the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand became An angry teenager with a gun – and used them as prompts.

Afternoon

I had been in five minutes and had just poured boiling water into three mugs when there was a knock at the door.  A neighbour had seen a runaway rabbit and called at my house because I was on the corner and therefore would probably know who it belonged to.  With logic like that, it’s hard to believe we can win a raffle, never mind two world wars.

Still, I’m a sucker for a scared pie filling so I went out to help, calling for my pretty assistant the Hub to come along: animals love him and if anyone could catch it, it would be him.

Turns out anyone couldn’t catch it, including the Hub – it sat in a shrubbery patch, snaffling the carrots we used to entice it and ignoring the umbrella-thrashing we gave the bushes in an attempt to frighten it out.  The last we heard, it had eloped with a runaway pig and they had set up home in Tamworth.

The poor Hub didn’t have such a lucky escape: it was raining and he slipped on some cobbles, landing flat – hard! – on his back and breaking his watch, to the amusement of those neighbours who had come out to watch us chase the rabbit but felt no need to join in.  Or to help him up.

When I got him back inside, Spud was in a spin: having had a late night, he had only just got up.  He came downstairs to find half-made tea, still warm; the car in the drive; the back door unlocked; but no parents.  He tried calling us but our phones rang inside the house…he was creeped out like only a half-asleep teen with a vivid imagination can be.  The Hub would have laughed if it hadn’t hurt so much; but he refused to go to the hospital.

The Hub wasting away because of my neglect

The Hub wasting away because of my neglect

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Tune in again – date to be determined because the excitement is still ongoing.

Coming soon: A day trip to Wales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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