Mansfield students reflect on First World War for theatre performance

Farmilo pupils Rhys Jones, Kieran Hall and Sam Mycroft peer around a corner in the trench.
Farmilo pupils Rhys Jones, Kieran Hall and Sam Mycroft peer around a corner in the trench.

More than 100 young people from schools across Mansfield are coming together for a public performance of music and dance compositions exploring separation, loss and social upheaval during the First World War.

The performance is part of an educational project by orchestral company Viva which works with schools across the country and will provide musical accompaniment on the performance night alongside the Tom Dale Company.

In order to gain inspiration for their creative performance students from Pleasley’s Farmilo Primary School and Mansfield’s St Peter’s Church of England Primary School and Queen Elizabeth Academy visited a reconstructed trench at Sherwood Pines.

Students read extracts of letters from soldiers at the front and wrote their own, which formed the basis of the songs they will be composing.

They will also be joining a series of workshops at their own schools with Viva composer James Redwood and musicians as well as with dancers from the Tom Dale Company during the lead up to their performance at Mansfield’s Palace Theatre on 23rd October.

Viva Education Manager Marianne Barraclough said: “Dark Clouds are Smouldering into Red is a unique opportunity for young people to research and create their own interpretation of the war and the impact both on the battlefield and on soldiers’ families at home through music, words and dance.

“The re-constructed trenches at Sherwood Pines is the perfect location for young people joining the Mansfield project to gain a wider appreciation of what life must have been like for the soldiers and to perhaps put themselves in the shoes of the families who were waiting at home for their safe return.

“After working individually as school groups with our creative team, they then come together with the full orchestra for very moving and poignant public performances of their own work, the orchestral commission by James Redwood and the choreography of Tom Dale.”

Lindsey Brown, learning ranger at Sherwood Pines, said: “We have created the replica trenches at Sherwood Pines to commemorate the history of the site.

“From 1914 this was home to the Clipstone Camp, which is where many troops will have trained in trench warfare.

“So having the exhibit used for a project such as this feels like a really fitting tribute.”

The project has been backed by a wide range of sponsors and supporters, including Rolls-Royce, Heritage Lottery Fund, The Foyle Foundation and Orchestras Live, and the extended tour has been made possible by a £89,118 grant from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.

Doors open on the night of the Palace Theatre performance at 7pm. Tickets cost £10, or £8 with concessions and £5 for children.

For more information visit or phone 01623 633133.