Sunday, 7 October 2018

Trench Brothers: commemorating the ethnic minority soldiers who participated in World War One

Trench Brothers school visit (Photo HMDT Music)
A new music theatre work by Julian Joseph and Richard Taylor, Trench Brothers, is commemorating the ethnic minority soldiers who participated in World War One using music, theatre and puppetry, bringing to life their hopes and fears, their longing for home, their camaraderie, courage and valour. 

There will be two performances of the work at Brighton Dome on 17 October 2018, featuring professional actors, singers and musicians, jazz and Indian classical musicians, and 250 schoolchildren. The performances will be the culmination of a four-year project involving children from local primary schools in Brighton, Newhaven, Lewes and Seaford.

The music is by Julian Joseph and Richard Taylor, and libretto is by HMDT Music’s creative director Tertia Sefton-Green. The work is conducted by Lee Reynolds, directed by Clare Whistler and Freya Wynn Jones, designed by Neil Irish, and will feature jazz vocalist Cleveland Watkiss MBE, opera singer Damian Thantrey, who is half-Indian, actor Richard Sumitro and the classical Indian duo Jasdeep Singh Degun. The production takes as its starting point the complexity of the British West Indies Regiment not being permitted to serve in the front line. The narrative incorporates the stories of real-life soldiers who volunteered to serve the British Empire.

Trench Brothers has visited over 40 schools across the UK since it was launched in 2014. Participating schools receive an artefact handling session, a visit from an actor in the role of a First World War soldier from the Indian Army, and spend a day making a force of Trench Brothers puppets with artists from the Little Angel Theatre.

Each participating school researches an individual soldier, and creates a letter they might have written home, based on their findings. This is then workshopped to produce a song. The fully-orchestrated performances in Brighton Dome will include ‘Letter Songs’ by a range of composers, and in different musical styles, including James Redwood, Jenny Gould, Matthew King, Omar Shahryar and Michael Betteridge.

Further information from the HMDT website.

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