In November, a group of our gifted and talented students produced a play using spoken-word poetry, focusing on the First World War. The project was run by the Heritage Lottery Fund in conjunction with Redcar and Cleveland’s Tuned In! performing arts scheme, and aimed to teach students more about the Great War and its impact on society.
The project began with students exploring the work of war-time poets Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg. Supported by creative practitioners Andy Willoughby and Bob Beagrie, the group chose a favourite line from Rosenberg’s ‘Break of Day in Trenches’, and produced their own creative piece after studying photographs and sounds of battle.
After finalising the poem and completing rehearsals, the students performed their work as part of the Tuned In! Armistice Day commemorative activities in Redcar. The experience proved to be a challenging and eye-opening one for the students, who refined both their creative writing and performing arts skills over the course of the project. In addition, the students deepened their understanding of the First World War, using their new-found knowledge to craft a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives in the conflict.
The poem the students produced can be found below:
Rosenberg Memorial Mash-up
A live thing leaps my hand
a queer sardonic rat
rooting around in the soil
beneath my feet
Only I can’t move , I’m stuck ,
I may be dying
bombs everywhere screeching,
hurling through still heavens
breaking the peaceful sky
turning it into HELL.
I sit here in silence
the blood of the injured
splattered on my hands
Boom! Bang! Boom!
It’s happening again.
Droll rat they would shoot you
If they knew your
The doves fly gracefully
Over the trench taking us away
We can still hear the muffled cries
of the fallen men.
I survive yet another battle
bullets, bombs and wire,
going back to my trench,
It might be me tomorrow.
Poppies whose roots are in men’s veins
Still grow back , every night,
men walking up and down
trying not to think of those who’ve died.
The darkness crumbles away
as I remember the fallen of the day;
the air is still and I am a hunter
but I don’t try to catch
the weird sardonic rat
Who survived the battle with me.
I remember wails of innocent men
They ring around my ears
Thousands of men killed by men
They have never met
All in one battle.
The stuttering of the machine guns
echoes still in my ears and the faces
of my dear friends from my company
are in my dreams each night
dead on the ground –
now the singing of the birds
only comes to mock them.
Silence creeps over as I remember
the screams of the barbed wire dead.
It is the same old Druid time as ever
Death, flash, less men every second.
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Principal: Mrs Angela Sweeten
Redcar Academy, Kirkleatham Lane, Redcar, TS10 4AB
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