Here is a short video discussing the directorial decisions for several of the headphone verbatim sections of ‘Sincerely Yours’. If you would like to see more information on how the Gobo was created then check out our Assistant Stage Manager, Louise’s blog post here!
Birds Eye View Theatre (2014) How to make a gobo. [online video] Available from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuZkyfyl3hc [Accessed 27 May 2014].
Pearson, L. (2014) Get busy making a gobo. [blog entry] Available from http://birdseyeviewtheatre.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2014/05/02/get-busy-making-a-gobo/ [Accessed 27 May 2014].
My Granny Biscuit, found in an old album in the dining room, she was about 25 when this photograph was taken.
This is my Granny Biscuit, she is now 86 years old and is one of thirteen children. The story that she tells in the video is of my great Grandad Freeman(her father) and great Granny Mooney (my Grandads mother). My Granny discovered when it was nearing her wedding day that when Grandad Freeman was going off to war he had left his job as a postman. In the absense of Grandad Freeman, Great Granny Mooney took over the job of delivering thousands of letters from the front line to the houses of their loved ones, sometimes delivering good news but often not.
Great Grandma Mooney
Great Grandma Mooney took on the role of a Postwoman and my Granny and Grandad found out near their wedding day
Granny and Granddad on their wedding day
that their parents had had a connection from the war, in that they had exchanged jobs. I found this out on a night at the beginning of the process where we were having a game of scrabble ( that she won hands down)and wanted to know more.
I called my Granny and asked her if I could do an interview with her to learn more about it.
She found it incredibly hard to talk about but decided to go ahead and tell me all she knew. Here’s a section of the interview that I will show to the girls and see if we can use it in the show
Hope you have enjoyed having a look at a bit of my family history
This week a few of the birds went to see The Second Minute by Andy Barrett
Mooney. C (2014)
Ellie and I could not fit in the car so we cycled and did some flyering on the way.
Bunclark. F (2014)
Bunclark. F (2014)
The play focused on letters being sent in the First World War ‘around nineteen thousand mailbags crossed the channel every single day and the art of letter writing enveloped the country, as people of all ages and from all classes tried to keep in touch with sons, brothers, husbands and lovers’.
Messages from the front line were sent from the soliders requesting their favourite food and telling their families they missed them. These are the types of letters my Great Granny Mooney had to deliver. Good news and bad. Letters and the delivering letter was crucial, it explored a mothers loss of her son.
Day. R (2014)
The story follows a mother called Laura who is a researcher and has discovered a solider called Tom’s letters. The honest accounts and struggle with Laura having one of Tom’s letters delivered a day recreates her relationship with her son in the war, who we find out died. She looks for something in Tom’s letters to give her hope and fill the void in her heart that her son dying has left.
We were so excited as a group to watch and experience how another theatre company dealt with a topic that was so sensitive. They performed with such a fantastic understanding of how important it was to share these stories that excited us all to perform our telling of the stories we feel are important to share.
Whilst there I asked the owner of the Terry O’Toole Theatre if she minded if we handed out flyers at the end to help market the show, she was so excited at the prospect of another centenary piece she encouraged our enthusiam.
The Second Minute is one to watch !!
Day.R (2014)Terry O’Toole Theatre Website[online] Available from: http://www.terryotooletheatre.org.uk/events/the-second-minute/
‘There’s the girl who clips your ticket for the train,
And the girl who speeds the lift from floor to floor,
There’s the girl who does a milk-round in the rain,
And the girl who calls for orders at your door.
Strong, sensible, and fit,
They’re out to show their grit,
And tackle jobs with energy and knack.
No longer caged and penned up,
They’re going to keep their end up
‘Til the khaki soldier boys come marching back.There’s the motor girl who drives a heavy van,
There’s the butcher girl who brings your joint of meat,
There’s the girl who calls ‘All fares please!’ like a man,
And the girl who whistles taxi’s up the street.
Beneath each uniform
Beats a heart that’s soft and warm,
Though of canny mother-wit they show no lack;
But a solemn statement this is,
They’ve no time for love and kisses
Till the khaki soldier boys come marching back.
This poem by Jessie Pope we thought was a true representation of how hard the women worked in the war. After our working progress we discussed that it was a framing for a piece.
What I thought would be nice was to create a poem for the end which included the people who had created the piece, the women who helped us to create it and the women who inspired us in the first place. I devised the poem that you will hear at the end of the show.
I want to stage it so that the girls engagded with the poem so that the audience would. Every time the girls read out their roles or the process through the poem, you hear this incredible pride because we have come so far.
I hope you enjoy the poem and the show
Pope. J (1911) War Girls poem[online] Available from :http://allpoetry.com/poem/8605783-War-Girls-by-Jessie-Pope[Accessed on 15 May 2014)
Our performance has a homemade feel to it and, due to the nature of the content, it feels very personal and quaint. We want to extend this beyond the performance and to our audience in the lead up to the show, as well as the shows aftermath. After all, it is the centenary year of World War One.
During our research stages we spoke to many people who have influenced the show as we give their stories a voice. To say thank you to these people and to show how much we appreciate them sharing their stories with us, I will be sending them a home-made invitation/thank-you card.
Golby (2014) Home-made Cards
I hope that these small gestures will show how much we value these stories and the people who they belong to. As a company we must ensure that we stay true to them and do them justice when they are transformed for the stage.
Here are a Few Clips Ellie and I recorded in the Care Centre.
Residents Talking of their good and bad experiences of the war.
Today Ellie and I went to visit the people in the East Holme residential care centre to hear their stories and see if it could inspire our piece especially seeing as it is research and development stage.
The stories of these people were beautiful and melted our hearts. A common theme seemed to be how
‘No one ever talked about the war’
The topic of war was painful for a lot of the residents to talk about, they were more then happy to share stories of family members returning and riding on tanks and their fathers returning from war. However, losing members or having them not return brought some of the members to tears, this was hard for Ellie and I to experience but gave us an understanding of how sensitive the issue was for all of the people we talked to and potential audience members.
Even though the residents found it hard they shared their stories and were so excited at the prospect of coming to see it because it was the stories they had told us, and we were giving their words a stage.
The nature of ‘Sincerely Yours’ offers a beautiful space within which the voices of The First World War can take centre stage in its centenary year to pass on the tales of history. Our piece has been created from the letters, personal stories and history of the Local Lincolnshire people during the First World War and has been devised for the people of Lincolnshire in the 21st century. This gives our audience a strong, emotive connection to the piece, a deeper appreciation and understanding of their ancestors. They can hear what their feelings, emotions, fears, rejoices were and listening, in some cases for the first time, to the truthful occurrences in day to day wartime Lincolnshire life.
The Women of Lincoln who built the first ever Tank, Flirt II.
The Lincoln Tank Memorial. Accessed on April 21 2014, http://www.lincolntankmemorial.co.uk/aboutus.html
Our visits into local nursing homes have provided us with some of the closest accounts and most personal stories that we will ever come across in this process. Speaking to the elderly about stories their mothers, fathers and relatives, now passed, have previously told them gives us the most intimate link to wartime Lincolnshire people. They were able to tell us specific times, smells, sounds, feelings they had when their elders had told them stories and, more importantly, the tone in which their elders had spoken. There is something incredibly moving about talking to the elderly about their childhood experiences and how they spoke with their parents about The Great War. They divulge some moments in time which are extremely personal and, on occasion, has caused great upset, yet they carry on speaking as if it helps them to deal with their past and aids them in moving on. We have seen how they talk fondly of their past, almost without pausing to think, as if it were yesterday, and they can remember the conversation word for word without even thinking about it. Like muscle memory they reel this information off and share such intimate moments with us, we have been extremely privileged. To capture this in performance, we use the technique of Verbatim. It allows us to speak in their vocal pattern, with their story telling tone and hope to capture the essence with which they told us originally. We don’t embody or act them. We allow their voices to speak through us.
Birds Eye View Theatre Company walking in the footprints of the women who came before our time.
Emily Cox, 2014.
The Lincoln Tank Memorial. Accessed on April 21 2014, http://www.lincolntankmemorial.co.uk/aboutus.html.
In the opening line of our Manifesto, we state that Birds Eye View Theatre Company, “are committed to creating REAL theatre. Honest theatre. Truthful theatre. Theatre that uses real people’s voices.” (Company Manifesto, 2014). In Verbatim, Verbatim, Will Hammond and Dan Steward define this diverse style of theatre a simple step by step process in which; ‘The words of real people are recorded or transcribed by a dramatist during an interview by a dramatist during an interview or research process…’ (2008, p.9).
From a directorial viewpoint, working with verbatim or devising theatre so both are new challenges for me as I have only ever worked with adaptions and script based texts before. Having watched Ours Was The Fen Country directed by previous DV8 member Dan Canham, we decided upon a similar style using head phones to listen to the verbatim as we spoke it. A few weeks ago, our producer Jess made contact with Mr Canham to ask some vital tips when learning verbatim. One of the best tips that Canham gave us was to listen to the piece as if it were a rhythm. We grasped the ways in which we could project the verbatim from watching the show. For the actors in the Ours Was The Fen Country, this was facing the audience head on and speaking the words. This may sound incredibly simple I have learned the key to creating verbatim which will evoke emotion is to set the scene using the words, images and background movements can then be added separately. Watch a snippet of verbatim practise below…
This brings me to my favorite Birds Eye View rehearsal so far which took place on Tuesday 18th March. We managed to pull together 16 minutes of our show for our work in progress showing, and most importantly I was able to work with each actor individually on their verbatim section. In terms of rhythm, Jennie’s appears to be the fastest, Her verbatim was taken from Charlotte and Ellie’s visit to one of our two care homes. Listening to the piece along side Jennie we were able to notice moments in which we could create beats in the dialogue, similar to the beats an actor would use to mark a fresh script.
Jamee, Jess and Lauren Rehearsing verbatim.
Katie Mitchell’s book, The Directors Craft was equally as useful for developing the characters immediate circumstances. By this I mean simple things which the actor can imagine to help them pick out more of the character, Mitchell defines immediate circumstances as; ‘…the events that happen in the 24 hours or so leading up to the action in the scene.’ (Mitchell, 2009, p.31). Using verbatims from both Louise’s and Lauren’s Grandmas, these details became things such as how the furniture was set in the room, what was playing on the television and the time of day. For example Emily’s grandmother sips a cup of tea as she speaks, a detail which when added to the scene allows the audience to see further into the lives of our interviewees.
So, a trip home last weekend uncovered some amazing family history for me. My grandma had an entire folder full of original postcards that were sent during World War One.
Simpson, L. (2014) Postcards
The postcards vary from being written by my great granddad to his mother and father, to then some being written to him by his French girlfriend, Juliette. There is not always much written on them due to censorship but they always let the family know that he is safe.
Simpson, L. (2014) Postcards
There are also some lovely hand stitched cards in this folder, sent on special occasions like Christmas or a birthday. The detail on them is incredible which shows the amount of time that must have been spent on them.
Simpson, L. (2014) Christmas Postcard
Simpson, L. (2014) Royal Army Medical Corps
We really love the aesthetic of these and so we are currently looking at ways of incorporating this style into the set. The words that are written on them will also, hopefully, make an appearance in the final performance. This adds a real personal element to the performance for me and it will hopefully ring home with a lot of the audience members too. Here is a final picture of the man himself:
This week I visited my Grandma and she allowed me to record an interview with her about her parent’s role in WW1 as well as sharing her memories of what life was like as a child during WW2.
My Great Grandad, Christopher Arthur Ellerton, Pearson, 2014
Grandma told me that her father, my Great-Grandfather, Christopher Arthur Ellerton was a Policeman who became a stretcher bearer during the First World War, serving at the Battle of the Somme and at Ypres, surviving the whole war and returning after it was over to marry my Great-Grandmother. I also learnt that my Great-Grandmother worked as the equivalent of a butler to a large house, as all the men were away. My Grandma read out some of Arthur’s diary from his travels during the war including some comments on what the conditions were like. It was amazing to see and hear his words and know that I am actually related to him.
All of this was recorded on a Dictaphone so it can be incorporated into the performance, possibly through speaking Grandma’s words ourselves or acting out the images in her stories.
Pearson, A. (2014) Christopher Arthur Ellerton.
Pearson, A. (2014) Grandma’s World War One Stories: Fourth Story. [interview] Interviewed by Louise Pearson, 19 February.