A pair of plays set during the First World War and celebrating the importance of female friendships are being performed under the joint banner of No Man’s Land.
Victim Always Dies and The Canary Girls were both written by Paul King, a popular local playwright who sadly died in 2018.
They are produced by his son Robert and directed by Eleanor Blackham in his memory. Paul was a long-standing member of Titchfield Festival Theatre, having originally written and toured with the play to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World in 2014, visiting schools, libraries and museums. TFT is now giving local audiences the opportunity to see this show which includes just three female actors, each of whom perform a variety of different roles in both plays.
Victim Always Dies tells the story of two middle class young women who volunteered for the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), an organisation established to help alleviate the desperate shortage of nurses. They played an invaluable role in the war effort and saved many lives. In the typical black humour of the troops VADs were referred to as 'very active dusters' or 'victim always dies'.
The Canary Girls is set against the background of the battle of the Somme and this play and tells the story of a young munitionette. Almost all of the thousands of artillery shells and millions of bullets fired by the British Armed Forces in World War One were made by women; the chemicals used to make munitions were toxic and turned the hair green and the skin yellow, as a result the workers were nicknamed 'canary girls'. Some workers died from the poisons and many were killed in explosions.
Eleanor – who is making her Titchfield directorial début – says: ‘100 years after the conflict, there are still many things we are discovering about the First World War and this play seeks to both educate and entertain our patrons about two very different groups of women – from a feminist perspective.
‘There are no male characters throughout, each of our talented and multi-skilled actors performing several parts. They are two really great stories and we are truly proud to showcase both as a fitting tribute to Paul.’
Robert adds: ‘We are fortunate to have such a superb and strong cast who have come together to perform No Man’s Land, all of whom are experienced members of Titchfield Festival Theatre. It is an honour to produce the show in memory of my father and I would encourage people to come along and enjoy what promises to be an excellent production.’
NO MAN’S LAND
Titchfield Festival Theatre