Poetry Competition Launched, WAR POETRY FOR TODAY, In Association With REGENERATION And TheatreCloud
Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen dramatically changed propaganda-fuelled public perceptions of the First World War with their poetry portraying the real horrors of mustard gas and trench warfare.
One hundred years on, where are the new war poets and what do they have to tell us? As the world premiere stage adaptation of Pat Barker's Regeneration, which tells the story of Sassoon and Owen, prepares to embark on a national tour, producers have teamed up with TheatreCloud.com (www.theatrecloud.com) to launch a major poetry competition.
War Poetry for Today officially launches on 4 August 2014, 100 years on from the day that Britain declared war on Germany in World War One, and continues until 28 November 2014, when the three winning poems will be announced and read at the penultimate performance of Regeneration at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool.
Today, we are inundated with images of conflict, disseminated instantaneously by the media and online. In the First World War, there were only 16 official photographers amongst the Allied troops, images and all correspondence were highly restricted and censored and took months to appear in the public domain.
Both Sassoon and Owen served in the war - they met while being treated for "shell shock" (now known as post-traumatic stress disorder) in Craiglockhart Hospital in Scotland, where much of the play is set - and Owen was killed in action on 4 November 1918, just one week before the Armistice was signed.
However, Matthew Gale, producer of Regeneration for Touring Consortium Theatre Company, says that the War Poetry for Today competition is not limited to veterans. "We would be honoured to receive contributions from men and women who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan or other conflicts. But the competition is open to everyone who is able to put their thoughts and feelings on warfare into poetic form. In the modern world, we have all been affected by the images and consequences of battle, whether directly or indirectly."
Regeneration, adapted by Nicholas Wright and directed by Simon Godwin, premieres on 2 September (previews from 29 August) at the Theatre Royal, Northampton, where it continues until 20 September and then tours to nine further regional theatres until 29 November.
At each tour stop, Theatre Cloud and the Regeneration cast will shortlist their favourite poems from recent submissions, and actors from the play - including Tim Delap and Garmon Rhys, who star as Sassoon and Owen - will perform filmed readings at the theatres. These videos will be published on TheatreCloud.com.
In the final week of the tour, the shortlisted poems will be reviewed by an expert panel. The author of the most powerful poem will receive a grand prize of £500. Judges will also choose a runner-up, who will win £250. A third prize of £250 will be awarded to the poem that's been most shared by audiences online.
War Poetry for Today is the second Creative Project undertaken for Regeneration with TheatreCloud.com. It follows the recently announced Young Reporters Scheme for aspiring arts journalists to report on the production at their local theatre. For more information on both Projects and Regeneration, visit www.theatrecloud.com.
Final deadline for War Poetry for Today submissions is 27 November 2014.
Regeneration is a co-production between The Touring Consortium Theatre Company and Royal & Derngate, Northampton.