The Hundred Years’ War builds upon the success of last year’s Being Human show, bearing a united front of Bloodaxe poetry anthology and innovative live performance of poems on the theme of war.
There is significant weight of expectation behind The Hundred Years’ War, in the first year of the 1914-1918 World War I centenary happening throughout the UK, any cultural product relating to war and conflict risks being swamped by the fallout of four-years of Remembrance. This is no bad thing necessarily, but so many of the cultural events and arts funding built around this niche is backwards looking, rarely is a contemporary slant invited; but with great nous and a balanced approach, The Hundred Years’ War manages to remind audiences why we have acts of Remembrance and how these are the prism through which we view contemporary conflicts..
As much as Being Human was equally bold and inviting in the show’s presentation and delivery, it perhaps enjoyed a warmer reception than its progeny because in some regards it dealt with the weightier matter of life (in general).
The Hundred Years’ War bears the same novel approach of actors performing poetry in minimalist settings, employing sound effects, some music and limited props to emphasise open-ended context where it is most needed. Some of the poetry is harrowing and challenging in theme, but performances are never curtailed or censored, each of the 40 pieces performed is given room to breath and audiences head and ear space to digest. Some of the poems are considerably stronger than others in tackling the business end of war, though all of the work remains vital, accessible and often deceptively complex and begs further introspection and audience engagement with the themes – what more could you ask of poetry?
To some audiences the poems of HYW might seem limited, having skipped much of the obvious and somewhat overused war poetry (much of it gravitating around WWI), but for me its aim is truer, sharper, it has more to say about worldwide conflict and its aftermath, and thus should resonate more deeply with audiences and readers of today, beyond the stage and the page.
The Hundred Years’ War is made in the Midlands, Coventry, to be precise, by Midlands Creative Projects in partnership with The Belgrade Theatre and Bloodaxe Books. You can see it now on tour throughout the UK, with future dates planned for 2015:
Wednesday 12th November 2014, 8pm
Selby Town Hall, York Street, Selby, North Yorkshire, YO8 4AJ
www.selbytownhall.co.uk, 01757 708449
Thursday 13th November 2014, 7.30pm
Seven Arts, 31A Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 3PD
www.sevenleeds.co.uk, 0113 2626777
Friday 14th November 2014, 7.30pm
Helmesley Arts Centre, The Old Meeting House, Helmesley, YO62 5DW
http://www.helmsleyarts.co.uk/whats-on/-northern-accent-presents-the-hundred-years-war-, 01439 771700
Saturday 15th November 2014, 7.30pm
Ropery Hall, The Ropewalk, Maltkiln Road, Barton upon Humber, North Lincolnshire, DN18 5JT
www.roperyhall.co.uk 01652 660380
Thursday 20th November 2014, 7.15pm
Culture Lab, Newcastle University, Grand Assembly Rooms, King’s Walk,
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU
Thursday November 27th 2014, 7.45pm
Off the Shelf Festival of Words, Crucible Theatre, 55 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 1DA
www.sheffieldtheates.co.uk, 0114 249 6000