Christmas Truce

Hard on the heels of the extraordinary success of the Poppies, which has left me in a whirlwind of the impact it has had on the nation and now the demanding plans of where we might take the Weeping Window and Wave until they are finally installed at the IWM, comes another project with an extremely moving First World War subject matter.

Phil Porter has created, in my view, a beautiful piece of character based drama in which we follow a group of men and women from the idyllic peace of a midsummer cricket match in Warwickshire in the summer of 14 to the real life events in the trenches of Ploegstreet in Flanders culminating with the famous football match. It is interesting that part of the success of the poppies lay in the individuality of a single poppy for a single life and this drama draws on that hunger for individual stories rather than an analysis of the bigger political picture. Phil has deliberately focused on a group of ordinary people whom we grow to love and so mourn their fate. There are Officers, most importantly Bruce Bairnsfather the Stratford based cartoonist and a head Matron, but they are still answering to the unseen orders from above. Instead we share the common humanity, and lament the brief peace that promised hope.

The productions style is deliberately rough theatre. There is a design , inspired by the landscapes of warwickshire and flanders but most of the locations are created using simple constructions of ladders, chairs and beds. We all know what the trenches looked like and in a theatre environment an attempt at naturalism would have created an aestheticised version. we can’t do the mud, blood, the cold the smell. Instead we have to invite the audience use their imaginations. Always the best way !

Christmas Truce by Phil Porter, RST 2014. Directed by Erica Whyman, Designed by Tom Piper, Lighting by Charles Balfour

Christmas Truce by Phil Porter, RST 2014. Directed by Erica Whyman, Designed by Tom Piper, Lighting by Charles Balfour

Christmas Truce by Phil Porter, RST 2014. Directed by Erica Whyman, Designed by Tom Piper, Lighting by Charles Balfour

Christmas Truce by Phil Porter, RST 2014. Directed by Erica Whyman, Designed by Tom Piper, Lighting by Charles Balfour

 

Christmas Truce by Phil Porter, RST 2014. Directed by Erica Whyman, Designed by Tom Piper, Lighting by Charles Balfour

Christmas Truce by Phil Porter, RST 2014. Directed by Erica Whyman, Designed by Tom Piper, Lighting by Charles Balfour

Christmas Truce by Phil Porter, RST 2014. Directed by Erica Whyman, Designed by Tom Piper, Lighting by Charles Balfour

Christmas Truce by Phil Porter, RST 2014. Directed by Erica Whyman, Designed by Tom Piper, Lighting by Charles Balfour

Comments

  1. Grace Westwood says:

    I went to see The Christmas Truce just after Christmas and was absolutely blown away by the designs by Tom Piper.
    The sets are not over embellished or obvious in any way. Instead, Tom Piper has presented us with a space capable of being built upon by the imagination of each individual audience member. The effect of this is a very personal one, where the true WW1 story hits home in the most poignant manner.
    There are often problems when designing for the thrust stage, but Tom Piper displays no hesitations in his designs, which splash out into the audiences sphere, breaking the fourth wall dramatically and extremely successfully!
    Thank you Tom for creating such a strong and effective design for the stage!

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