Welcome to the learning resource!
In 2018, Flying High Expressive Arts CIC was, in partnership with Gedling Borough Council and Inspire Youth Arts, awarded a £10,000 grant by the Heritage Lottery to run a project looking at how lives were changed in the aftermath of the First World War. This is the result of that project. This is...
Then & Now:
Rebuilding Lives after the Great War
This page is best enjoyed by scrolling down though the project and interacting with it as you go along. There will be links to click to provide a faster way to find things if you know what you're looking for but if not, just keep scrolling!
Letters written from six men on the front line to a young woman, Lucy, at home acted as catalysts for all strands of the project. These included letters from the young woman’s fiancé and brother who both died in the last three months of the war.
Lucy is the grandmother of Carrie Bird, director of this project. The letters were found by Lucy's daughters in her wardrobe, kept in a shoebox, after her death in 1978. They were painstakingly transcribed and shared around the family and eventually led to the creation of this project.
The project involved four main strands which you can visit by clicking below or by carrying on scrolling!
And the fourth and final strand of the project is this learning resource you are looking at now!
Have a look at the variety of resources we used throughout the process of the entire project. These were used as stimuli at all times and so feed into every single aspect of Then and Now. You can click the boxes below to have a look or head to the Downloads page where you can obtain copies to use in your own work.
We ran these workshops at a variety of schools and establishments. Check out some photos and lesson plans from the workshops here.
You can also see more details, some feedback from the schools and get copies of these plans to use in your own work in the Downloads section.
'Dear Lucy...' is the play which was created as part of this project. Use the quick links below to look at a specific part of the process, or keep scrolling to discover it part by part.
The opening pages of the script (right) and a structure for the play (below).
Thursday 12th, 10.00 - 16.30
Friday 13th, 10.00 - 18.00
Monday 16th, 10.00 - 16.00
Tuesday 17th, 10.00 - 16.00
Wednesday 18th, 10.00 - 18.00
Thursday 19th, 10.00 - 16.30
Friday 20th, 10.00 - 18.00
Sunday 22nd, 15.00 - 21.00
Monday 23rd, 10.00 - 18.00
Tuesday 24th, 10.00 - 18.00
Wednesday 25th, 10.00 - 18.00
Thursday 26th, 10.00 - 22.00
Saturday 28th, 10.00 - 18.00
Sunday 29th, 12.00 - 18.00 + Preview Show
Monday 30th, 18.00 - 22.00
Tuesday 31st, 12.00 - 16.00
Above is the cast, as listed below. Right is an image gallery of the rehearsal process.
Article in Scotland's Sunday Mail
This is the flyer we gave out in the hundreds to Fringe goers on the streets of Edinburgh during August.
This brochure was left on seats for audience members to read through and take home. It includes the notes from Carrie Bird which you can read on the right, a list of all the cast and characters and a thank you to all those who volunteered their recorded voices and the other descendants of Lucy who helped with the show: Marion (her daughter), Drew, Steve, and Lesley (her grandchildren.
Carrie Bird - Writer/Director:
This piece of theatre is based on the true story of my grandmother, Winifred Lucy Hall (1899-1978), who was one of the millions of women who wrote to, and received letters, from men fighting in the First World War.
Lucy's letters were found in a shoebox in her wardrobe by her daughters, Marion and Pauline (my mother and auntie), in 1978 after her death. Neither daughter knew of their existence and Lucy never spoke to anyone about them or much about her life during the war and after it. She often mentioned Vera Brittain and felt they had a connection, as their lives had similar consequences. Pauline then undertook the painstaking task of deciphering the sometimes very faint handwriting and typing up all the letters for the family to read.
I read the letters a few years ago and always wanted to create a piece of theatre using them as a source and decided 2018 would be the best time to showcase it, as it is the centenary year of when most of the letters were written. It is also the centenary of the deaths of Lucy's brother Alvin and her fiancé Bob.
Frederick Alvin Sprostin died on 29 July 1918
Robert Sebastian Stott died on 12 October 1989
The war ended a month later.
'Dear Lucy...' is a work in progress and from this we hope to develop the piece as a reminder of the time when women's lives changed immeasurably with the hardships of rebuilding lives and keeping communities together. It has been so lovely to listen to other people's stories about their family members and we hope this acts as a catalyst for sharing our past and remembering the people who gave us a future.
Carrie Bird's brief to Tash for the songs. Find this and the song lyrics in the Downloads section.
Polly: "Excellent performances - dealing with the consequences of war and death - very moving. This war and the following one led eventually to the formation of the EU to prevent it happening again - it seems we haven't learnt much! :( Very well done for reminding us - you will do very well in Edinburgh :)"
Phil: "Was really brill! Wish you all the best for Edinburgh!"
Jackie: "Fabulous performances this evening , extremely emotional and very moving ! Well done Carrie and to all those involved and to Tash for some lovely music .
Enjoy showing it to Edinburgh 👏👏👏"
After the previews it was time for the big trip to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - the world's biggest arts festival. We performed the show eight times to audiences there and received wonderful feedback along the way. At each show we had a board out for people to write feedback on, while professionals and audiences alike could share reviews on the Ed Fringe website. We've summarised a few of these below.
During our time at the Fringe a total of 271 tickets were either sold or given away to audience members.
John: "Wonderful show, which somehow finds a way of dramatizing life ending and life carrying on, during and after World War I, with four versatile actors, very few props and an excellent script."
British Theatre Guide: "A charming and kind tribute to the forgotten sorrows of the War and the quiet scars that often healed in silence."
Martyn and Susan: "A truly outstanding show. Well written and performed by some descendants of Lucy's family which made it very personal. Excellent acting, great music, and superb singing."
Everything Theatre: "Dear Lucy… celebrates the courage of all those women who remained at home whilst their men fought in the war, and often had the painful duty of picking up the pieces of wrecked families and broken hopes."
Hilary: "A warming and poignant play based on a heartbreaking true story that most can identify with in their own family. Some gentle sweet comedy and great production."
Fringe Review: "Characters are well-defined, with costume changes delineating the variety of roles undertaken by the hard working and consummate cast."
Back in Nottingham after the Fringe, we took 'Dear Lucy...' on a tour of three Gedling Homes assisted accommodation venues in Gedling Borough to perform it to residents there. We also did a performance at the Bonington Theatre at the end of the Summer Course, the project's third strand. These shows meant we needed to adapt the staging to the following spaces:
Discovered Stories, Audience Figures and Feedback
Now we're going to take a look at stories which were unearthed in the process of making and performing 'Dear Lucy...'
It's been mentioned that there are family connections running throughout this project. Along the way, four generations of Lucy's descendants either saw or took part in the project. The youngest of these can be seen to the right.
The show received plenty of feedback as we worked through the various stages of its life. Ian Smith, former director of the Television Workshop in Nottingham, told us that finding out the family connection was what made it stand out for him.
We were also told lots of stories in response to the play. One involved the medals you can see to the right, which were awarded to a family member of somebody who saw the first of our accommodation performances. She kept these in her room and brought them down specially after seeing the show. She told us she goes to see the war graves every year.
After her child worked with us in the Summer Course and saw the Bonington performance of the show, one mother decided that was the time to tell her daughter that her grandfather had died in the First World War.
Jon told us: "My grandfather was a cavalry captain in the first world war. He managed to sign up under age (mother tells me so at any rate) and was obviously commanding men much older that he was, many of the young people we work with will be older that he was at the time. He was patched up and sent back to the front several times but eventually got sent home with dysentery that he caught whilst in a field hospital. He was told he could not have children as a result of the illness but actually had 6. He was second in command in his home guard unit in the second world war as there was a general in the village. As you can imagine the play had some poignant moments for me, great work."
Assisted Accommodation and Summer Course Shows
Accommodation board comments
The Showcase and Summer Course happened at opposite ends of the Summer this year, but both gave opportunities for the younger people in the community to engage with and learn about the subject matter of our project - how lives changed after the First World War. At both, our members and attendees were given some of the resources listed at the start of this page and came up with drama, dance, songs and other kind of artistic work based in this stimuli.
The Summer Showcase is a staple event on the Flying High calendar.
It has been an integral part of our year for a long time as we look to give our members of all ages the opportunity to perform on the stage at the Bonington Theatre.
This year the show took on the special Then and Now project theme, and the various groups used the same stimuli mentioned earlier to produce performances related to the topic. Have a look at the programme on the right to see what they came up with!
L - Highlights video from this year's Then & Now Summer Showcase
R - Recording of our Vocal Group singing a collection of war time songs at the Showcase
Summer Course Structure (Find this and the course script in Downloads section)
Three days in workshops: 10am-3pm
One day at Bonington Theatre:
Staging Technical Rehearsal Dress Run
Evening Performance 'Dear Lucy...' Performance
Amanda, parent of a Summer Course participant:
"I can not thank Carrie and staff enough who are patient, caring and hard working and they really adapt to the child's needs.
"Having a daughter with high anxiety is challenging, especially when somewhere is new, but my daughter was immediately settled. She has grown in confidence greatly since joining dance and more so since being part of the Summer Course 2018 - even to the point where she managed to go to secondary school with the confidence she gained. Normally these days would be a melt down.
"We have enrolled her now into drama dance and vocal and we are really looking forward to watching her grow even more."
Andi, parent of a Summer Course participant:
"Just watched a group of children, including my son perform after a 3 day summer workshop ‘Then and Now’.
"It was absolutely fantastic. The children were amazing, so confident. The acting, dancing and singing was just superb.
"Well done and thank you to the teachers for their support and encouragement."
Then and Now: Changing Lives After the Great War came to an end on
Sunday 11th November 2019
one hundred years after the ending of the war itself.
We marked the moment with a presentation at an event at Arnold's Bonington Theatre.
Carrie Bird talked through everything you have read in this resource, before Rachel Bird sang the closing song from 'Dear Lucy...' for the audience.
Right is a video of this song, containing moments from the presentation, the performance at the Edinburgh Fringe, the preview show in July and the accommodation shows in September.