This festive season, Promise Adelaide is staging a special season of All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 by Peter Rothstein with musical arrangements by Erick Lichte and Timothy C. Takach. Tickets are now on sale for this family-friendly theatre production.
The Christmas Truce was an extraordinary event that took place in 1914, the first year of the war, and was never repeated. Thousands of men put down their guns and left their trenches to meet their enemies in No Man's Land. They exchanged gifts of tobacco, rum and chocolates, even photographs of loved ones. They sang songs, played a game of soccer, and buried each other's dead. Upon orders from above, they eventually returned to their trenches and re-instigated a war that would last four more years.
All is Calm is a musical production with an entirely male cast who tell the story of the 1914 Christmas Truce through the words from letters and poems of the soldiers and through the a cappella harmonies of the Christmas songs they sung.
Following the Australian premiere of Simon Reade's Private Peaceful, adapted from the Michael Morpurgo book earlier this year, All is Calm is the second production from Promise Adelaide focussing on WW1 and particular elements of its rich history.
The critically acclaimed Private Peaceful explored the execution of soldiers for cowardice in WW1 through the story of fictional character Thomas 'Tommo' Peaceful. Promise Adelaide was nominated for a Curtain Call Award for 'Best Drama' for the production and a nomination for 'Best Male Actor' also went to performer Ben Francis.
All is Calm, however, is a very different theatrical experience in many ways as the music is foremost and items range from trench songs to patriotic and sentimental tunes, as well as Christmas music from the participating countries.
The text is taken from a wide range of sources including letters, journals, official war documents, poetry, gravestone inscriptions and even an old radio broadcast. The historical accuracy of the text brings greater realism and emotional connection, without detracting from the entertainment value of the work, rather, it engages audiences imaginations to complete the story and put a human face on war.
The production is directed by Paul Reichstein, a teacher of English and Drama, who explains why he is delighted to be involved: "What draws me to All is Calm is the fact that such a humane and beautifully shared moment could rise up out of one of the coldest and most unforgiving environments in human history. I'm constantly moved by the individual confessions and recollections of these soldiers. In the midst of war, there was love… even for just a heartbeat of time."
With a challenging a cappella score, Promise Adelaide have brought in Trevor Anderson to musically direct, utilising his expertise as a coach and performer in the a cappella community. Trevor also loved the piece from the outset: "All Is Calm holds the music at the very core of the storytelling and the a cappella arrangements allow space, silence, simplicity and the rawness of the human voice to make a striking impact on the audience."
The heroes of The Christmas Truce were the lowest of the ranks - the young, the hungry, the cold, and the optimistic - those who acted with great courage to put down their guns, overcoming their fear of the movement which put the guns in their hands to start with. This ensemble production has been cast with this in mind, ensuring a good proportion of the actors are teenage boys and very young men, representative of the masses of boy soldiers who made up the ranks of the Allied Forces in this conflict. Paul goes on to explain "the important challenge, (for both myself as director and the young men, as actors) is to honour that moment that was experienced and felt by very real people".
Tickets for All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914 are now on sale and priced from $20. Choose from four performance times at The Goodwood Institute:
For more information on Promise Adelaide and All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, please visit www.promiseadelaide.com