Cooper Hall - Classical Music Venue
A Hundred Years Since World War I
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Troupe Collective

For those of you who enjoyed Catherine Carter playing The Mother and Witch in our production of Humperdinck's fairy tale opera Hansel and Gretel during this year's Frome Festival, there is an opportunity to see performing once again as part of the Troupe Collective.

Troupe produce concerts which involve music, dance and spoken word responding to the performance space and aim to make classical music more accessible to a broad audience of all ages.
A Line In The Sand is a piece about shifting identities and the real and imagined journeys of war, told through stories of courage, suffering and adventure. From the sorrow of Ivor Gurney to the glitter and intrigue of Mata Hari. Troupe's commemorative concert features chamber work by  Debussy, Kodaly, Handel, Gurney, Cage and Ives.

Steyning Festival review by Celia Muggridge:
Troupe – A Line in the Sand.

If the nightmare of the First World War still resonates with us, how much more horror must there have been for those facing a second war only twenty-one years later?
This was just one of the thoughts that occurred to me in an original and complex evening of music and theatre which was touching and moving, with surprising elements of lightness.
Through music, dance, photography and a poignant choice of texts, Troupe presented a range of aspects of war to move us and make us reflect, one hundred years on from the start of The Great War.  Violinist Francesca Barritt, Singer Catherine Carter, pianist Jesse Maryn Davies, cellist Sophie Rivlin and Dancer, writer and performer Kate Wakeling are a group of highly talented and versatile musicians and performers. They presented the stories of ordinary people whose lives were turned upside down by the onset of war in 1914.
The evening was divided into four areas of exploration. The first was “To begin” portraying the world before the war. In this section they performed on cello and violin Bartok’s collection of Hungarian Folk Songs and Debussy’s Cello sonata of 1915 – suitably fractured in concept, and played exquisitely. Many of the projected images were taken from the collection of photographer Albert Khan’s Technicolour pre-war photos -“a great book of the world”- a world that was about to be devastated. Troupe gave the evening a local and touching resonance by researching and projecting the names of all the Steyning men who fell in the First World War.
This was followed by “Honour Bound” examining the effect family plays on the lead up to war. One treat from this was a heart-breakingly beautiful rendition of Handel’s “Svegliatevi nel core” from Giuglio Cesare, where the boy struggles with his fears and the need to revenge his father’s death.
During the interval we were encouraged by a tot of rum to loosen our tongues, and our inhibitions, to take part in a rendering of Jerome Kern/ Herbert Reynolds’ “They didn’t believe me “.  We were also invited to read and ponder the extracts and photos that were strung around the hall; many of them used as readings or illustrations in the piece as a whole. I felt this gave us an intimacy with the piece and a communal involvement which was very inspiring.
The third part was New Worlds, exploring the effects of the war and opening excitingly with John Cage’s Melody from Living Room Music” played on the tools of the trade of the new working woman – e.g. a typewriter and a rubber stamp. This was followed by the story of spy, Mata Hari, her shifting identities portrayed magnificently through Balinese dance. The painful awareness of shell shock was there in Ivor Gurney’s “Sleep”.
The final part, Aftermath, acknowledged the way “the aftershocks of the first war bled into the rest of the century; for those who lived through and alongside the conflict life would never be the same again.” They chose a poignant extract from Virginia Woolf’s diary set to music by Dominick Argento. The section ended with the haunting strains of Kurt Weill’s  “Youkali”, which eventually became the unofficial anthem of the French Resistance. We were left unsettled and aware of the extraordinary power of music to speak for the human spirit.
Then, as an encore, we were asked to sing again “They didn’t believe me”. As we left the hall, and still now, the refrain “Oh we’ll never tell them” was running through my brain. And many of them did not tell us, but somehow we know. Evenings like this remind us and teach us. We were entertained, we were moved and we were reminded not to forget.


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