Not About Heroes returns to celebrate war poets

Not About Heroes, with Simon Jenkins and Alasdair Craig. Pic: Comp

Not About Heroes, with Simon Jenkins and Alasdair Craig. Pic: Comp

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IN 1917, having protested against the continuance of the war, Siegfried Sassoon, a decorated war hero and celebrated poet was sent to the Capital’s Craiglockhart War Hospital. The idea was to silence him.

There he met shell-shocked Lt Wilfred Owen. The pair formed a friendship that transformed them both and created 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 machine-gunned to death at the Sambre Canal, near Ors, seven days before the Armistice.

It seems fitting, then, that Craiglockhart War Hospital (now part of Edinburgh Napier University) is this week, playing host to Stephen MacDonald’s play Not About Heroes, which charts the relationship of two men whose poetry became the voice of a lost and scarred generation and a world changed forever.

Weaving together their poetry, letters and autobiographical writings including Anthem for Doomed Youth and Mental Cases, Not About Heroes celebrates the indomitable spirit of friendship and offers an insight into courage, love and humanity in the face of war.

Samuel Grey of the Wilfred Owen Association says, “I am delighted that Feelgood Theatre are 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.”

Director Caroline Clegg adds, “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.

“Whilst 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.”

Not About Heroes, Craiglockhart War Hospital, Napier University, today 1.30pm (with post-show talk) and 7.30pm; Wednesday 10.30am (with talk)

and 1.30pm, £15, www.notaboutheroes.com