Youth production looks at The Great War through poetry
A new Shetland Youth Theatre production which reflects on the tragedies of the First World War though the medium of poetry will have its first showing today.
The production, titled In the Still of the Night Have We Wept, will be performed in Baltasound later today, with a second showing in the Garrison Theatre tomorrow and finally in Walls on Tuesday.
Featuring a cast of young performers aged 11 to 20 the show will tackle the horrors of war through poetry readings. Of the 32 poems featured in the performance 31 were written during the war.
Director John Haswell said that the show was concerned with “timeless” and “universal human emotions”.
Much of the poetry read during the show was written by Shetlanders, and unearthed by Haswell in the archives at the Shetland Museum.
The director said that he tried to avoid the well-known war poetry to concentrate on lesser known poems. As well as poetry which reflects on local experiences from the trenches Mr Haswell has chosen poems by women at home, worrying about their husbands, brothers, sons and fathers.
Reflecting on the use of poetry Haswell said he viewed it as an “ideal medium” through which to meditate on “ingrained human emotions”.
The story of the show begins with disengaged contemporary youths who are taken on a journey through the war via the poems featured in the show. The readings they perform will “personalise the individuals who had to live with the consequences” of the war. Haswell describes this approach to the war as “humanistic” rather than “jingoistic”.
He added: “We don’t venture into the politics of it, we look at the consequences of the war on people, irrespective of the political rights and wrongs.”
Alongside the poetry locally produced pieces of music, written especially for the show, will also feature in the performance.
The director added that he hoped the show would appeal not only to fans of theatre but also to those interested in the content.
He said: “I would like it to engage with those who are interested in the content and the history of the show and those interested in poetry and literature as well.”
• A review of the show will feature in next Friday’s Shetland Times