Sidbury actors get up close to the action

Battlefield trip for actors in Sid Vale community play based on World War One

SOME of those rehearsing for Sid Vale’s community play, Johnny Jack’s War, can’t get enough of realism.

So they have decided on a trip to battlefields to get a better feel for their part.

The play’s director, Crosby Chacksfield, former head of drama at The King’s School, Ottery St Mary, said: “Several members of the cast decided they would like to experience ‘on the ground’ what we are endeavouring to portray in the play.

“So we are planning a trip to Belgium, to the battlefields on the weekend of September 24-25.

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“There are a few places left on the coach, so if anyone would like to join us for this unique experience, they would be very welcome.”

The production, due to be performed in Sidbury Village Hall in November, is about the opening months of World War One and its effect on village life when the young men go off to the Somme.

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It combines familiar folk and wartime songs and music with scenes from the trenches, the village pub, Sidmouth Mummers’ play and lots more.

All the dialogue and events in the play are based on real occurrences - some amusing, some moving and some that give new insights into our perceptions of “the war to end all wars”.

It is a promenade production, with four stages in different parts of the hall, with the audience able to move around following the action, and, at times, becoming part of it.

The trip to Belgium is being organised by European Heritage Tours, who will provide an experienced tour guide.

Highlights will include the interactive Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate, Passchendaele trench museum at Zonnebeke, Tyne Cot military cemetery, and Essex Farm, where John McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields where Poppies Grow.

Closing date for the trip, which costs �149.50, is Saturday, August 20. See more details of the play at or call John Dowell (01395) 567466 for details of the trip.

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