To mark Remembrance Day our talented students paid tribute to the 180 million people who have died as a result of war since 1900 by staging 2 lunchtime performances of prose, poetry, music and dance in the Henry Mitchell Hall on 11th November.
The programme had been developed by second year National Diploma in Performing Arts students following an initial lecture on war. It opened with a specially devised dance piece, featuring Leah Belcher, Jodie Bloomer, Stephanie George, Constanze Keighley, Jeni North and Emma Zabrocky.
Aimi Walton delivered a passionate reading of Wilfred Owen’s condemnation of the horrors of war, Dulce et Decorum Est. Heather Maloney, Kai Mayambala, Gemma Barratt and Jade Smith then gave a powerful piece on memories, showing the devastating impact of one soldier’s death on the lives of his wife, mother and sister.
Stephanie Thornton sang her own composition, Farewell, a capella. She had written the song for the occasion by imagining the feelings of a girl bidding farewell to a brave soldier. Rafi Raja performed a monologue expressing anger and survivor’s guilt as a ghurka soldier sees his comrades slaughtered. Roxie Dent and Jeni North read real letters from the Home Front and from Anne Frank’s diary, recalling the dangers and suffering of civilians in England and Germany in WWII.
The carnage of the trenches during WWI was glimpsed as Rafi Raja, Ben Oakes, David Pizzey and Robin Bowmer performed the final scenes from the 1989 BBC classic Blackadder Goes Forth, as Captain Edmund Blackadder and his fellow soldiers face the inevitable and prepare to go over the top. As the soldiers fell in turn as they were mown down by machine gun fire, the screens behind them showed a field of poppies.
The poignant mood was enhanced by the beautiful playing of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus in D Major by National Diploma in Music Practice students, Ben Mungovin and Adam Royston. The screens displayed a series of photographs of men and women killed in conflicts throughout the world, signalling the dropping of the poppy petals from the balcony as a final act of remembrance of all the fallen.
The audience included many students, staff and two representatives from the Bristish Legion, Jim Hargreaves and Bert Gray, who had both served as army sergeants during WWII. They were pleased that young people were carrying on the crucial work of remembering and chatted with actors and dancers about the realities of war. This dialogue will be continued as Jim and Bert kindly volunteered to return to answer our students' many questions about their wartime experiences.