Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Bev Lee Harling – singer, violinist and composer. Photograph by Ian Wallman

Bev Lee Harling – singer, violinist and composer. Photograph by Ian Wallman

Reflecting on war in the comfort of home

Domestic objects animated to conjure a very different, charming, personal contemplation of #Armistice100 with new composition by Bev Lee Harling. Gail Borrow shares her take on Kipling’s First World War.

00TapCupThis autumn, four years of centenary contemplation of The Great War draws to a close with #Armistice100. This half term and beyond, St Leonards has some fascinating, alternative events to mark the moment including experiential theatre company ExploreTheArch’s The House at Armistice, which opens on 26th and 27th October, the final weekend of the school holiday.

A beautiful production inspired by a surprising Rudyard Kipling short story, the anticipated 1WW symbols of the poppy and uniformed soldiers are absent, replaced by more familiar domestic objects: the flat iron, the tap, a book and the ubiquitous cup of tea.

“Our immediate thoughts of war always tend to be of soldiers on a noisy battlefield,” theatre maker Gail Borrow explains, “But Kipling, in this late short story focuses on the homemakers.  The quietest folk. People who were at war of course because a whole nation goes to war when war is declared, not just those who sign up for active service.”  The objects, personified with spectacles descending from a grid, are charmingly honest, shown to be enjoying the village event of a good funeral before the outbreak of war casts it sinister transformation on life.

001111This Kipling writing is boldly feminist for its time, a reflection of how The Great War affected the author. He lost his own son in the war and sat on the War Graves Commission, writing epitaphs, existing at the heart of the establishment. Travelling the war cemeteries of Europe in the fragile years after 1918, Kipling witnessed the suffering of women also frequenting these places. Out of this experience emerges the extraordinary short story of 1924, encouraging a female perspective, and additionally inviting compassion for those who had made different choices in life, who had broken society’s rules, and were therefore unable to mourning freely and healthily.

ExploreTheArch recommend their work to viewers of all ages with a policy of free tickets for under 19s.  The company offers a vivid, intimate, quiet experience compelling for younger and older viewers alike, avoiding the macabre trappings of war without trivialising the subject matter. The intimate experiential theatre piece is a lot like sitting in an installation with events unfolding around the audience, bathed in exquisite music created with an orchestra of more traditional and experimental, found instruments.

A promenade experience over two floors of the domestic venue, a beautiful late Victorian villa tucked away in St Leonards (Archer Lodge, Charles Road, St Leonards, TN38 0QX), the intimate nature of the production means that audiences are limited to fifteen (plus free children’s tickets). Advanced booking essential, viewers are encouraged to bring a tangible or intangible memory 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.

The House At Armistice opens on Friday 26th Oct for 11 nights of remarkable performance leading to 11/11. More information and performance details can be found on the company’s website where tickets (£14 + booking fee) and free children’s tickets can be purchased.

To avoid the online booking fee, head to fabulous local independent bookshops The Bookkeeper Bookshop in Kings Road, St Leonards and Printed Matter Bookshop, Queens Road, Hastings for cash only ticket sales (check shop opening times). Inexpensive copies of Kipling’s short story can be purchased at the event.

Posted 23:09 Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018 In: Performance

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