Eleven nights of intensely moving performances leading up to 11/11
Swap the poppy wreath of traditional Armistice ceremony for a domestic tap animated by a pair of glasses and offer it a cosy cup of tea, and you have an idea of what theatre company ExploreTheArch is getting up to this autumn.
Inspired by a short story by Rudyard Kipling, the St Leonards theatre collective which specialises in paper sculpture and puppetry is exploring an alternative, female, and domestic perspective on The Great War.
The House at Armistice is timed to mark #Armistice100 and will be performed in Archer Lodge, Charles Road, from October 26 right up to November 11.
Vocalist, violinist and composer Bev Lee Harling plays Helen, a woman caring for her ‘dead brother’s unfortunate child.’ Helen nurtures her charge through his childhood only to watch him go to war instead of university. Helen could represent one of millions of British women experiencing bereavement in the early 20th century but Kipling’s writing offers something else; he was interested in women who broke the rules.
Bev Lee Harling’s exquisite songs and music accompany many symbols of domesticity and rural life beyond the tap with its cup of tea. Whisks, trowels, strainers remind us that life was hectic in villages as well as on battlefields during The Great War. Kipling’s protagonist experiences the juxtaposition of daily mundanity with the shuddering sphere of distancing, silencing disconnect triggered by trying to imagine a loved one in unfamiliar conflict and the dreaded arrival of the missing-in-action letter.
The intimate nature of the production means that audiences are limited to 15. Viewers are encouraged to bring a souvenir of a relative or family friend caught up in the First World War or someone read about and admired to honour in the foyer display which will develop over the performance run.
More performance details can be found on www.explorethearch.com where tickets (£14 +booking fee) can be purchased, or buy them at The Bookkeeper Bookshop in Kings Road, St Leonards and Printed Matter Bookshop, Queens Road, Hastings. Tickets are free for under 19s. Early booking is essential.