The Perse School

Perse pupils explore wartime experiences in production of ‘Forgotten Voices’

17 Nov 2014

Over the weekend, two performances of the Year 11 play, Forgotten Voices, took place. Forgotten Voices explored wartime experiences of those involved in the First World War, from front line soldiers to women involved in the war effort. Franklin Nelson, one of the students who starred in the play has written a piece on this excellent and moving production.

“This year, the United Kingdom has marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. At the Perse, Forgotten Voices by Max Arthur was chosen as the Year 11 play.

The play explores the multifarious experiences of survivors, from soldiers who served on the front line to the women who stayed at home, working in factories to bolster the war effort. The combination of more reflective accounts juxtaposed with horrific descriptions resulted in an intensely moving portrayal of life before, during and after the war.

The cast, comprising Hannah Rashbass, Anna-Katrine Sussex, Wilf Wheatley, Peter Silver, Roan Talbut, Gracie Baker and I worked hard to ensure that we did justice to those whose experiences were archived by the Imperial War Museum. Alongside Mr Hawksworth, the School’s Theatre Director in Residence, we devised and debated the best possible ways of putting the play together. Not only was it Mr Hawksworth’s first play at School as director, but we were also the first company to perform in the Loft, the multi-use space in the new South Building. The result was an incredibly immersive setting, which allowed the audience to better experience the tenderness and sadness of people’s stories.

Throughout the rehearsal process, we learnt more about the experiences of Old Perseans who chose to enlist to serve their country; indeed, students who went on the recent Battlefields Tour visited the grave of David John Freeland Bradbury, a former student who died in November 1916, aged only nineteen. I would like to thank Mr Jones, the School Archivist, for sharing his knowledge with us.

Finally, I would like to pay particular thanks to Mr Hawksworth for all his work in making this production such a success; my fellow cast members and Emma Broadhurst, who were a constant source of laughter throughout the production; the English and Drama department for all its advice; Mr Roberts who ensured the performance was historically accurate; and last but by no means least, to the audiences who came to see the performances.”

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