THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS to Premiere at Birmingham Hippodrome

THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS to Premiere at Birmingham Hippodrome

As part of the forthcoming anniversary of the onset of WWI, Birmingham Hippodrome, in partnership with Women & Theatre and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum (Royal Warwickshire), will present the premiere of THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS - a performance piece inspired by the experiences of young soldiers from Birmingham during WWI.

Presented in promenade, THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS will take audiences on an evocative journey that explores how the war may have been experienced by Birmingham lads. Audiences will move through the Hippodrome foyer to different spaces and places including the car park on Thorp Street which is the site of a Drill Hall used by young recruits of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment before they left for the trenches.

Performed by a cast of 20 young men of similar ages to the young recruits of 100 years ago, THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS aims to respectfully shine a small light on all those sons, brothers, uncles, fathers, lovers, workmates and friends across Europe who fought in WWI.

THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS is the culmination of a heritage project bringing together a group of 16+ young men from Elmhurst School of Dance, Moseley School, Queensbridge School and the local community. The title is taken from a poem written by a Birmingham Soldier that appeared in the Birmingham Post in 1916, The project has seen participants carry out archive and interview-based heritage research focusing on the experiences of members of the Birmingham-based battalions of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which has then formed the basis of the production which will be premiered at Birmingham Hippodrome on Sunday 30 March 2014.

There will also be an exhibition of the project at the RRF museum in Warwick in April 2014 and the production of a digital archive.

Janice Connolly, Artistic Director of Women & Theatre said "It has been a great privilege to work with the young energetic cast as full of life, ambition, ideas and love as their counterparts in 1914."

Liz Leck, Creative Learning Manager for Birmingham Hippodrome said "This project has made all the participants aware of their heritage and through their research have discovered that their peer groups of that time would have had to face the most awful circumstances and situations. Some of the recruits, who would have been no older than our students and would have had huge responsibilities including the awful job of leading battalions onto the battle field."

Liz continued "So far it has been a very humbling project to work on especially seeing the students progress their understanding of what it would have been like in the trenches. Janice Connolly from Women & Theatre has been an incredible inspiration for the students so I really hope people will come and join us for what will be a very special event."

THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS started with an initial inspiration session with the group looking at artefacts, such as letters sent home by soldiers, and discussing their personal responses. The project then spent a day at the RRF Museum in November, and returned to Birmingham in December to collect memories of the war from the general public. This month sees the students working hard attending weekly rehearsals to create the professionally written performance. A blog for the project can be accessed online at www.thechocolatesoldiers.blogspot.com

THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS is performed at 2pm and 4pm on Sunday 30 March. Suitable for age 10+. Patrons are advised to wear comfortable footwear as walking will be involved. Tickets are now available from Birmingham Hippodrome Tickets Sales priced at £5.00 concessions £3.00. Telephone 0844 338 5000 or online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com. Calls cost 5p per min, 5% transaction charge, £1 postage.

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