New war play explores shellshock, in Criaglockhart Chapel

TRAUMA: Mathew Wernham (front right), with performer Diogo Andre and chorus of Napier students behind
TRAUMA: Mathew Wernham (front right), with performer Diogo Andre and chorus of Napier students behind
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THE psychological pressures of war will be explored in a new piece of theatre to be performed by Napier University students on Sunday, 18 November.

The causes and effects of the trauma originally called ‘shellshock’ during WW1 are set to be investigated in Shocks, written and directed by Anna Furse.

The piece will be performed in Craiglockhart Chapel, on the site of the former Craiglockhart War Hospital where poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon famously met while they were being treated for shellshock during the First World War.

Described as a “lament and requiem” for those who were affected by the illness during the Great War, Shocks will feature an actor, dancer, soprano, live string quartet and chorus of students from Napier’s BA in English and Acting courses. It will explore the causes of war trauma, looking at what exactly led thousands of men – on all sides – to hysterical breakdown.

Furse says, “I have worked on various female hysterias and case histories over the years but this opportunity to address male hysteria in the very site of Craiglockhart is very exciting and special.”

With a text woven around Wilfred Owen’s iconic Dulce et Decorum Est poem as well as the voice of WHR Rivers, the pioneering doctor who treated soldiers at Craiglockhart with talking therapy, the piece features actors Mathew Wernham and Diogo Andre.

Napier’s resident composer Ken Dempster has composed a new score for the work which will be performed by a string quartet of graduates.

Making the performances all the more poignant will be the use of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen violins by the string quartet, both crafted by Steven Burnett from the bough of a tree from the grounds of Craiglockhart.

Shocks, Craiglockhart Chapel, Colinton Road, Sunday 18 November, 4.30pm and 7.30pm, £5-£9, www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/shocks-tickets-51356726351