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Introduction

Between the Lines was originally written for schools audiences. The aim was to create a short piece that would bring First World War poetry to life for young people. So, for example, the main character in the play is a sixteen year old boy, Joe, who lies about his age so he can join up. The play features a fast-moving variety of characters and locations. The poems are placed throughout dramatising what the characters are feeling, but also placing them in a context that helps to cast new light and give insights into them.

It has been performed for theatre audiences at the start of 2014 and is now touring to various venues in the UK. You can download a PDF brochure by clicking BTL schools brochure.

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Which students will get the most from the play?

Between the Lines is aimed at students from Year 7 upwards.

For English students

Between the Lines was written and created with the aim of bringing vividly to life First World War poetry. The idea was to go beyond a simple series of recitations, however beautiful. Instead, the intention was to place the poems in a dramatic context that captured the creative spirit which originally gave life to the words. Rather than tick off the most famous or most studied poems, The aim is to inspire students to read first world war poetry freshly, encouraging an emotional as well as a critical engagement.

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For drama students

Between the Lines is an evocation of Peter Brook’s ‘The Empty Space’ or what actors love to call ‘bare boards and a passion’. It consciously eschews lighting and sound effects, using only the skill of the actor and the imagination of the audience to create rapid changes in place and character. It uses a strong storytelling structure that doesn’t just tell the facts, but also expresses the emotional and imaginative truths underlying the different characters’ situations and dilemma.The play is also a demonstration of how actors can create their own work and develop their careers independently.

For history students

While Between the Lines focuses primarily on the poetry, the story traces a change in general attitudes to the war from excitement and patriotism to disillusion and cynicism. The play brings to life moments such as the recruiting halls, King George V’s message to the British Expeditionary Force on August 12th 1914 and the first day of the Somme. As with the poetry, the aim of the play is to bring vividly to life the experience of ordinary soldiers in the conflict.

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Which poems are featured?

Charge of the Light Brigade – Alfred Lord Tennyson

For the Fallen – Lawrence Binyon

The Soldier – Rupert Brooke

Who’s for the Game? – Jessie Pope

The Hero – Siegfried Sassoon

If – Rudyard Kipling

Disabled – Wilfred Owen

Exposure – Wilfred Owen

The Lover – Richard Aldington

Anthem for Doomed Youth – Wilfred Owen

In Flanders’ Fields – John McCrae

The play aims to inspire students to engage with the poetry and the situations from which they sprung: the poems above have been chosen to fit and bring to life the play’s story.

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What are the technical needs?

Between the Lines has been designed to be be performed in any space. It relies for its effect – like the First World War poetry it’s inspired by – on the language and the power this has on the imaginations of its audiences.

So there are no lighting changes and there is just one simple sound cue at the start of the show. We can deal with virtually all sound and lighting set ups. Please get in touch if you’d like any more technical details or if you have questions.

How much does the performance cost?

The fifty minute performance costs £350. This includes a Q&A session afterwards if needed. If you’d like a tailored workshop, we’d be happy to talk this through with you to make sure it fits your needs and the specific group of students you’d like to experience the performance.

We offer a discount for extra performances on the same day. Travel expenses are added outside London.