Attic Theatre Company to Bring FIELDS UNSOWN to Morden Hall Park, Sept 17-21
Following last summer's production of Twelfth Night, Attic Theatre Company returns to Morden Hall Park this September with a new site-specific play to mark the centenary of the First World War. FIELDS UNSOWN, a play by Catherine Harvy and Louise Monaghan, directed by Louise Hill and designed by Harriet de Winton, runs 17-21 September 2014.
When war broke out 100 years ago in August 1914, Gilliat Hatfeild offered Morden Hall to the War Office for use as a military hospital. Until now, the stories of the men and women who lived, worked and were nursed there remained untold. Fields Unsown, a new play by award-winning writers Catherine Harvey and Louise Monaghan, tells the story of life at Morden Hall Park during the First World War.
Fields Unsown is the product of original research funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and its cast of characters includes real people who lived and worked on the estate. Beginning at the Stable Yard, the audience will be transported back to September 1916, where they will find themselves amidst the lives and stories of the nurses, soldiers and farm workers of the time.
Director Louise Hill explains: "When we first began researching the history of Morden Hall Auxiliary Hospital, no one could tell us anything about it. The Red Cross knew it had existed, but not much more. But by hunting down material in archives and newspaper reports and interviewing local people, we have pieced together the Park's unique history. We found two young gardeners who left the Park for the front line, a soldier who recovered his power of speech in a dream which was reported across the world, and the young daughter of an MP who exchanged society balls for life as a nurse at Morden Hall. We're very excited to be telling their stories in the place where they lived and worked."
Fields Unsown is presented in association with the National Trust and will build on the success of last year's Twelfth Night, which was staged in the Stable Yard and received four-star reviews. Fields Unsown has appeal for both local audiences and Londoners from further afield looking for a unique theatre event and the opportunity to explore the beautiful grounds of this National Trust property from a new perspective.
On selected days there will also be accompanying performances by local groups, including a special First World War commemorative day on Sunday 21 September, featuring Cricket Green School, Going for a Song and The Salvation Army Band. See www.attictheatrecompany.com for times and details.
An accompanying audio trail will be available in late autumn 2014 and an exhibition of Attic's research into the history of Morden Hall Park will open at Park's Exhibition Centre alongside the play, before touring to local libraries.
PERFORMANCES: Wednesday 17 September: 6pm; Thursday 18 - Sunday 21 September: 2pm & 6pm.
VENUE: Meet at the Stable Yard and dress for the weather. Morden Hall Park (The Stable Yard) - Morden Hall Road, Morden, SM4 5JD (Morden Hall Road entrance); Tube: Morden (5 minutes' walk); Tram: Phipps Bridge / Morden Road; Buses: 93, 118, 154, 157, 163, 164, 201, 413, 470
HOW TO BOOK: Tickets: £8-£12. Online: www.attictheatrecompany.com. Tickets can also be purchased from Mitcham Library or the National Trust Shop at Morden Hall Park.
About Attic Theatre Company - Attic Theatre Company is resident in the London borough of Merton, working in mainstream and Community arts to nurture the arts for all ages in the borough. Attic presents a variety of theatre productions and events in the borough, across London and elsewhere in the UK. In the past 15 years, Attic has produced ten World Premieres and eight London premieres. Attic's summer 2013 production was Shakespeare's Twelfth Night staged in the open air at two of London's best-loved parks, Brockwell Park in Lambeth and Morden Hall Park. In 2012 Attic produced the premiere of 1936, Tom McNab's play about the 1936 Olympics, at the Lilian Baylis Theatre at Sadler's Wells as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
About Morden Hall Park and the National Trust - A green oasis in the heart of suburbia, Morden Hall Park provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of London and surrounding towns. The park was bought by the tobacconist Gilliat Hatfeild in the 1870s before passing to his son, also Gillat Hatfeild. Having no children, Hatfeild the younger moved into Morden Cottage and when war broke out offered Morden Hall to the war office as an auxiliary hospital. After the war, the Hall continued as a hospital for women and children. Hatfeild threw open the grounds for children's parties and his famous "Film Star Parties" when Hollywood actors descended on Morden, much to the excitement of the local people who flocked to see them. On his death in 1941, Hatfeild left the park to the National Trust for the benefit of the people of Merton. Morden Hall Park has always been at the centre of the local community, 'forever for everyone', echoing the mission of the National Trust. Today, the Park retains its strong community ties and hosts many events throughout the year.