Conflict takes centre stage this autumn

Published: 6 October 2014 at 15:15

Anglia Ruskin hosts three plays about First World War at Mumford Theatre

Conflict takes centre stage at Anglia Ruskin University's Mumford Theatre this autumn, with three productions focusing on different aspects of the First World War.

The performances, each preceded by a pre-show talk by an academic, began on Thursday 2 October with 'Twelve Ten Fifteen: The Life and Death of a British Martyr', which focused on the life and death of nurse Edith Cavell.

Cavell was shot by a firing squad in 1915 for helping allied soldiers escape Belgium and the drama asked whether her death could have been avoided. Was Cavell used as a propaganda tool by the British Government - the perfect martyr to polarise world opinion against the Germans?

Dr Lucy Bland, Senior Lecturer in History at Anglia Ruskin, delivered the pre-show talk. She said: "Edith Cavell was an exceptionally committed British nurse who happened to be in Belgium at the outbreak of the First World War as matron of a Brussels training school for nurses.

"Her death by German firing squad on 12 October, 1915 led to her being declared a martyr and war hero, with recruitment posters calling for revenge. Yet, ironically, in life she had been a pacifist."

On 29-30 October, a new play by Anglia Ruskin academic Dr Sean Lang will be performed as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. Entitled '1914 - Assassination Before Lunch', it looks at the men who took the decisions that thrust the world over the brink and into war.

The play focuses on an idealistic young Serb assassin, a bellicose Austrian General desperate to impress his mistress, a cautious Hungarian prime minister and an Austrian foreign minister increasingly out of his depth, and the doomed couple themselves - Archduke Franz Ferdinand, determined to prevent war and to ride in a car in public alongside his wife.

The 30 October performance will also include a talk by Professor Gary Sheffield, one of the leading authorities on the First World War, and an audience Q&A session.

Meanwhile, on 1-2 December, Stephen MacDonald's play Not About Heroes tells the story of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, their friendship, their inter-dependency and, of course, their poetry.

Lecturer Ian Bennett, who teaches creative and digital publishing at Anglia Ruskin University and who recently produced an app showcasing Owen's war poetry, will deliver a pre-show talk on 1 December.