Our 2014 production was: Wessex Scenes
Directed by Tim Laycock and Emma Hill
“Wessex Scenes is a re-enactment of a presentation made by the original Hardy Players, which was performed just once at Weymouth Pavilion in 1916 to support the work of the Red Cross .
This work by Thomas Hardy was written in 1916, halfway through the First World War, to raise funds for the Red Cross. It was culled by Hardy from his longer dramatic work, “The Dynasts”.
Our performance was the first since those in 1916, and we are grateful to the Dorset County Museum for supplying us with the original playscript.
The play starts and ends in 1914, but most of it takes place in the ten years of the Napoleonic wars which stretched from the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The battles are seen through the eyes of the ordinary people of Budmouth (Weymouth) who lived in fear of invasion, and with many men going off to war.
Hardy compared the warfare of 1916 with that of the Napoleonic wars: “It is, indeed, no less than extraordinary that an additional century of civilisation and more effort should have resulted in greater barbarities by far than any of those the much-abused Bonaparte ever put in force towards us”. As we commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, we reflect on how it compares with modern warfare.
The play featured songs and music from Napoleonic times, as well as some of the famous songs of World War One, rich local dialect, vintage make-up and a mummer’s play.
Audience comments from the first night:
“Marvelous costumes in a lovely setting. The whole thing looked fantastic!”
” The sound was really good, I could hear every word. It’s often very difficult to hear the actors at outdoor performances. Well done!”
You can see some photos of the production here