The Kings looks back on its role during First World War

The Lost Plays of World War One
The Lost Plays of World War One

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A play that hasn’t been seen for a hundred years is being brought back to the stage on Wednesday.

The musical comedy Lads of The Village is being put on as part of a free event at the Kings Theatre looking back at the first decade of the venerable venue, which opened in 1907, and its role during the First World War.

The day will also see a screening of Theatre of War, a documentary made by pupils at the city’s St George’s Beneficial School, as well as the unveiling of new history boards about the theatre’s role during the period, which will go on display in the dress circle.

And Mayfield School’s student will be performing three short plays they devised alongside Twisted Events Presents.

Finally, singer-songwriter Louise Jordan will perform songs from No Petticoats Here, about women’s roles during wartime.

The theatre has been working Gateways To The First World War, a scheme set up by the University of Kent, working with the universities of Portsmouth, Brighton, Greenwich, Leeds and Queen Mary, London.

Katrina Henderson, community engagement officer at The Kings says: ‘This started off just as the history boards and the documentary, but once we got in touch with Gateways, I realised that The Kings Theatre was one of the main venues in the UK to premiere these new plays at the time.

‘It made me laugh – they were saying if a play did well in Portsmouth, it could do well anywhere in the UK. You could argue nothing’s changed in a 100 years – Portsmouth audiences are still hard to please!’

To research potential plays for revival, Katrina went with a small group of volunteers to the British Library in London, one of the few places you can still see the original scripts.

‘There were four of us and we read four different plays – out of those, Lads of The Village was the one that stood out – the guy who was reading it kept on getting into trouble for laughing.

‘I was reading, Ex-Corporal Stubbs Investigator, which we have turned into a radio play made by professionals, so that’s really good.

‘We’re not sure how we’re going to put that out yet, whether it will be on the radio or as a podcast, but that’s very exciting. It’s such a brilliant piece, it should be heard, but I may be a bit biased!’

And Katrina’s looking forward to getting as many people along as possible.

‘It’s such a special project, and it’s a great opportunity for people who can’t always afford to come to the theatre to come into our beautiful building and learn about it’s history and the history of Portsmouth and Southsea for free.’

Tickets are free but must be booked.

The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.

THE LOST PLAYS OF WORLD WAR ONE

The Kings Theatre, Southsea

Wednesday, July 12

kingsportsmouth.co.uk