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An August Bank Holiday Lark at New Vic Theatre

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: January 21, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

An August Bank Holiday Lark at New Vic Theatre
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NORTHERN Broadsides and the New Vic Theatre are set to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War with the world premiere of Deborah McAndrew’s moving new play 'An August Bank Holiday Lark'.

Following Northern Broadsides’ critically acclaimed Rutherford & Son, the new co-production will premiere at the New Vic from 7 February until 1 March before embarking on a national tour until 14 June.

Taking its title from a line in Philip Larkin’s poem MCMXIV, An August Bank Holiday Lark explores the impact of the First World War on a rural community in East Lancashire.

Set in the idyllic summer of 1914 rural Lancashire, everyone in the community is excited about Wakes week; a rest from field and mill and a celebration of the Rushbearing Festival with singing, courting, drinking and dancing. The looming war barely registers … but it will.

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Through the lens of traditional rural life, the play follows the stories of the people of the village and witnesses their personal transitions from exuberance to touching naivety as they deal with their loss with courage and humanity.

Deborah McAndrew said: “An August Bank Holiday Lark focuses on one small community and the, often overlooked, British involvement on the Eastern Front. Countless Lancashire lads exchanged the soft Pennine drizzle for the searing Turkish sun and gave their lives at The August Offensive in Gallipoli. The play never leaves the fictional village of Greenmill, but remembers the fallen and wounded – and those for whom the War was far away and over long before the guns were finally silenced.

“It felt important to depict normal life with all the character and absurdity that you always see in people. The War happened to folk who were flirting and arguing, dreaming and even dying in the usual way; people for whom a poppy was just another flower you stuck in your hat.”

The play is directed by and features Northern Broadsides Artistic Director Barrie Rutter. Earlier this year, Barrie Rutter received much acclaim for his role of John Rutherford in the Broadsides production of Rutherford & Son. The remaining cast will feature Ben Burman, Emily Butterfield, Elizabeth Eves, Sophia Hatfield, Darren Kuppan, Brett Lee Roberts, Jack Quarton, Lauryn Redding, Russell Richardson, Mark Thomas and Andrew Whitehead.

Northern Broadsides is a unique theatre company with a true northern voice. Their work is characterised by a high degree of theatrical inventiveness and robust performances from a large ensemble cast of multi-talented and charismatic northern actors who all perform in their natural voices. For the past 22 years, they have delighted audiences here and abroad with a growing classic repertoire which has won them many awards and a loyal following worldwide.

Co-producing with Staffordshire’s award-winning New Vic Theatre, the production’s creative team includes designer Lis Evans (Around the World in Eighty Days, New Vic) with lighting by Mark Howland (Twelve Angry Men, Birmingham Rep and West End). Regulars at the Staffordshire venue, Broadsides presented their first co-production with the New Vic, The Tempest, in 2007, with Romeo and Juliet in 2008, The Canterbury Tales in 2010, Hamlet in 2011 and Love’s Labour’s Lost in 2012.

An August Bank Holiday Lark runs at the New Vic from Friday 7 February to Saturday 1 March. Tickets, priced £12 to £21 (concessions available), are available by telephoning the Box Office on 01782 717962 or online by visiting www.newvictheatre.org.uk.

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