Somme Men - After The Smoke Cleared...
In November of 2018, Talespin created and produced a play from scratch. We had a big idea and big dreams of a play unlike any other. We had an idea about a WW1 Epic about 4 men stuck in no man's land and an appearance of Shuang, a member of the CLC makes the band of soldiers suspicious.
The call out for a collaborative writer went out way back in April, we had a firm idea: Title of show, characters, circumstances even how it should end. Keziah had a very firm idea on how it should go but then came the dilemma 'Do I write or Direct Somme Men'
'I really wanted to write the piece, but i didn't want to direct as well, as when you write a piece you get a very specific idea in your head and you can get too precious on your work. So I decided to Direct and bring in a writer, so I still had the control of the vision I had.' -Keziah Lockwood
We had long process finding a writer and soon settled on Parissa Zamanpour, a writer from Manchester. She was happy to collaborate with us and after many meetings and working with Naomi Sumner Chan the dramaturg, gave us our vision realised. After auditions, we found our band of actors to play our characters and play them they did, very well!
In June, we brought Marissa Moore on board as Assistant Director with her experience in directing shows in the past, it proved a brilliant partnership and concluded with co ownership between Marissa and Talespin's founder Keziah Lockwood.
Mark Davies, Allan Law, Tom Leonard, John Mackie, Alex Thompson all played different characters, each with a unique secret. The biggest secret being that of the Chinese Labourer, Shuang.
4 men caught in the heat of battle are stuck in no man's land, with very little supplies and with no hope of getting out. Until that is Shuang is stranded with them, a fleeing member of the CLC. Mark Davies who played Harry Hayes [Incidentally the name of the writer's great grandfather who Parissa chose to appear in the play to pay tribute to his memory] is fascinated with their new addition. Tom, as Billy played the lovely tribute to boys who died in battle, and innocence in warfare. Shuang knows no English but proves himself instrumental in their survival. John played Michael White who was the ancestor of Keziah, maddended and changed by war, Keziah wanted to explore him from what her grandfather told her of him, to try and understand the type of man he was. He and Charles [Alex Thompson] decide to attack Shuang, suspicious of a spy. Ending in the death of the innocent caught in the middle, Billy. At the end, we find out throughout play that Shuang had chosen not to reveal his ability to understand and communicate in English. This riles White, and ends with his disappearance. The final scene, a heart wrenching monologue on how people look at him [Shuang] and ignore him at the same time, treating him like a dog. Much of how the CLC were treated.
Reviews were given for our show, including Paul Jenkins the Poet himself, awarding the whole production 5 Stars!