WWI tale comes to the Playhouse

Nottingham Playhouse has announced its first rural touring show in over a decade to mark the centenary of the beginning of the First World War.

The Second Minute is written by Andy Barrett, directed by Giles Croft and designed by Sarah Lewis, and tours from early May to mid-June.

The Second Minute, a new play, explores the emotional impact of the First World War on the ordinary men that became soldiers and the families they left behind.

During the First World War, around 19,000 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 and husbands fighting.

These were ordinary men going through extraordinary times. Scraps of paper with hastily written messages of love; requests for salted bacon and shaving brushes; letters telling of harvests, gas attacks, births and deaths; all were carefully carried between English homes and the chaos and insanity of the trenches.

Based on research into the letter collection from the archive of the Sherwood Foresters regiment this simply staged, poignant and uplifting new show weaves together heroic, comic, and heart-breaking tales of soldiers and families through their own words. And in doing so explores how this most elemental and vanishing form of communication managed to hold the country together whilst a generation of men was being destroyed.

Andy Barrett said: “Sitting at the small archives office at Chilwell Barracks and reading through these letters from nearly a century ago, some from men who survived and some from men who didn’t, was an incredibly moving and powerful experience.”

The Second Minute explores the devastating impact of modern war, seen through the eyes of Laura, (who has lost her son in Afghanistan), as well as the affect of a war one hundred years ago, told through the use of real letters.

The Second Minute will also form part of neat14 festival. (Nottingham European Arts Theatre Festival), first launched in Nottingham back in 2011. neat14 will feature work from Spain, Croatia, Poland, Canada and Germany. Nottingham Playhouse will once again be a key partner in hosting this ten-day festival (May 23-June 1).

The Second Minute will be performed during neat14 on May 26-27. For details, go to www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk