Beetroot, Harleigh, Falling, Spy… Short Plays Tell Bodmin’s Alternative WW1 Stories

Four short plays have been specially commissioned for The Trench Bodmin and will tell the alternative stories of Bodmin during the First World War. As seen in the outdoor production of The Trench Bodmin, there are strands of truth woven throughout these plays, which will take on various elements of Bodmin’s history during the First World War.

These performances will include a mix of professional and community actors, and will take place in the loft spaces of Bodmin Keep on selected dates at 5pm (run time approx. 45 minutes), before the Trench experience starts at 6pm. Please note that due to the intimate and atmospheric venue, tickets for the short plays will be limited.

Tickets for these performances will be £5 each and will go on sale at the same time as tickets for The Trench Experience – you can purchase tickets to watch just one or all four, and you are welcome to come for the plays alone, or enjoy them as part of the Trench experience.

About the plays:

Beetroot Pie By Dominic Power, Directed by Michael Tonkin-Jones 18, 21, 22, 23 June. 5:00pm start. Run time approx. 45 mins.

At the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, the Agar-Robartes family of Lanhydrock House try to maintain their lives of aristocratic rural luxury. Dozens of Cornishmen and women are employed in the house and grounds, and the family’s splendid houses in London, Cambridgeshire and Cornwall are hives of influence on the government. However, their servant’s lives are also irrevocably drawn into the tragic theatre of European conflict. Beetroot Pie follows Eliza Treggy - widow of Lanhydrock Parish and cook at the grand house, and tells the stories of the people of Lanhydrock, as well as the saddened, grand family dependent on them throughout The Great War and into their twentieth-century lives.

Hip, Hip, Hip-Hurrah for Harleigh By David Rowan, Directed by Jason Sqibb 26, 27, 28, 30 June. 5:00pm start. Run time approx. 45 mins.

At the top of Harleigh Road in Bodmin is the old Grammar School. Today the building hums with modern business activity, but if you listen carefully, the sound of commercial industry fades and becomes the classroom murmur, the sound of playground games and the ringing of the school hand-bell. If it is summer you will certainly hear the knock of bat on cricket ball, the call of the umpire and the ripple of applause. In 1914 Harleigh School won the Cornish Schools’ Cricket Championship. That same year, the Headmaster appealed to the Old Boys to rally to the colours: “Let not their old school be disappointed”. When the Great War ended, 24 names were inscribed on the School Memorial. From the faded pages of old School Magazines, the triumphs, hopes and dreams of schoolboys rise like ghosts, tragic and doomed. Among them are those who played for the School Cricket Team: It is their story we tell in Hip, Hip, Hip-Hurrah for Harleigh.

Falling By Emma Spurgin Hussey, Directed by Sally Crooks 2, 4, 6, 7 July. 5:00pm start. Run time approx. 45 mins.

2018. Following her father’s death, Liv undertakes to finish his family research. As she investigates the First World War experiences of her great great-grandfather, Walter Landry, she soon finds that it is the women he left behind in Cornwall who capture her imagination, yet they have largely been silenced by history. Liv turns detective, piecing together fragments and shadows, questioning Landry’s mother, wife, daughter and servant, until these women’s voices clamour to tell their stories – comic, tragic, angry. In the process, Liv uncovers a family secret, and begins to learn about her father, her grief, and herself.

The Spy Who Loved D. H. Lawrence By Mark Crees, Directed by Hannah Stephens 9, 11, 14, 15 July. 5:00pm start. Run time approx. 45 mins.

1916: war is raging in Europe. So is D. H. Lawrence. Having moved as far away from London as he can get, Lawrence and his German wife, Frieda, rent a cottage near St. Ives. When Lawrence is suspected of working for the enemy, P. C. Penner of St Ives Constabulary is sent undercover. By day, Penner spies on the writer; by night he patrols through Lawrence’s heartfelt novels, books which seem written for him alone. But it is at Bodmin Barracks where their destinies become even more deeply intertwined.

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