Hollywood actor Jason Isaacs has thrown his weight behind a new war drama commemorating World War One.
Stephen MacDonald’s powerful Not About Heroes is set to tour the UK from September before moving into London’s Trafalgar Studios in November.
The drama is set in 1917. After protesting against the continuance of the war, Siegfried Sassoon, a decorated war hero and celebrated poet is sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital to silence him.
There he meets shell-shocked Lieutenant Wilfred Owen and they begin a friendship that transforms them both and creates some of the greatest war poetry of the twentieth century.
Returning to the front, Sassoon was shot in the head but survived. Owen went on to win the military cross, but was killed in a machine-gun attack at the Sambre Canal, near Ors, seven days before the Armistice.
The multi-awarding winning Feelgood Theatre takes to the road with the drama that charts the extraordinary friendship of two men whose poetry became the voice of a lost (scarred) generation and a world changed forever.
The national tour of Not About Heroes opens at Craiglockhart War Hospital where the two men met.
It goes on to tour significant venues in the poets’ lives, including Owen’s home town of Shrewsbury.
There will also be a special performance, by special invitation of the Mayor of Ors, at The Wilfred Owen Memorial (The Foresters House) in France.
Here, on October 31, 1918 Wilfred spent his last few nights in a smoky cellar and wrote his last letter home.
The show ends its tour in the West End at Trafalgar Studios just a stone’s throw from London’s Cenotaph.
The work celebrates the indomitable spirit of friendship and offers an insight into courage, love and humanity in the face of war.
It weaves together their poetry, letters, and autobiographical writings including Anthem for Doomed Youth and Mental Cases.
Alasdair Craig will play Sassoon and Simon Jenkins is Wilfred Owern.
Samuel Grey of the Wilfred Owen Association said: “I am delighted that Feelgood is touring a new production of this wonderful play.
“We couldn’t ask for a better company to do justice to Wilfred and Siegfried’s story.
“I urge people to see it, especially in the places that were special in the lives of Owen and Sassoon, as this adds a level of intimacy and reality.”
Caroline Clegg, founder of Feelgood Theatre who will be directing the drama, added: “Not About Heroes is an exquisite play of love, courage and conflict.
“As a director I continue to grapple with the unfathomable questions of the First World War, a conflict that still reverberates deep in our psyche.
“While this play can’t answer those questions it explores them with wit and dexterity – the poetry enables us to bear witness on a personal level that affects the head and heart.”
Alongside special workshops, the production will be performed at Catterick Garrison to children of army personnel, veterans and service men and women recovering from the traumas of war.
The tour is accompanied by a national poetry competition to find the war poets of today.
With actor Jason Isaacs as patron, Whispers Of War aims to find the war poets of today by building a link between the First World War and the 21st Century.
It also encourages amateur poets from the military and civilian community to work together to create bridges of understanding through the written word.
The competition winners will be invited to a special ceremony in London and an online anthology published as a legacy of new perspectives.
8-10 September, Craiglockhart War Hospital Edinburgh Napier University
11-13 September, Unitarian Church, Brighton
15 September, Ripon Cathedral
16 September, Catterick Garrison Library (Sold Out)
17 September, Georgian Theatre, Richmond (Yorks).
18-20 September, Scarborough Library Concert Hall
25-26 September, Llandudno
29 September, Customs House, South Shields
30 September-1 October, Selby Abbey, Yorkshire
3-4 October, Theatr Brycheiniog, Powys
5-8 October, The Lowry, Salford Quays
10-11 October, Kardomah94, Hull
14-18 October, Unity Theatre, Liverpool
21-25 October, Guildhall Theatre, Derby
31 October, Wilfred Owen Memorial Ors, France
3-5 November, Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
10 November-6 December,Trafalgar Studios, London.