Forget Never

Forget Never

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Son's of Three Countries Remebered

The Son’s of Three Countries Remembered.

Stephen Metcalfe MP’s local project to commemorate the centenary of the First World War brought to life a unique tri-lingual Christmas Concert. The concert, funded by an Our Heritage Grant from HLF East of England, provided the opportunity for invited guests from all areas of the community as well as dignitaries from both of Basildon’s Twin Towns - Heiligenhaus in Germany and Meaux in France. Fricklesome Amsel, a renowned folk group from Heiligenhaus provided the musical direction for the concert leading performances by Basildon Choral Society and Pitsea Junior School Choir.
Christopher Walthorne playing Louis Vallin, Writing his letter home

James Le Lacheur, Playing Albert Kiekert, writing his letter home

Adam Elliott, playing George Burnett, writing his letter home
A play written by local script writer Dawn Knox entwined the musical pieces with short playlets performed by actors from DOT productions. The playlets followed the lives of three men, one from each of the Twin Towns, who served their country during the conflict.
Images from first rehearsals
MP Stephen Metcalfe commented “A hundred years ago Great Britain and France were at war with Germany. Thankfully today we are all allies and friends. It is therefore fitting that our project involves close collaboration with our Twin Towns of Heiligenhaus in Germany and Meaux in France. It has been so uplifting to be part of a tri-lingual effort to remember all those who were affected by the conflict wherever they were from.
 This concert remembers in particular three individuals who served in the First World War, one each from the three Twin Towns. Their stories would be echoed in so many communities throughout the globe.”
We asked script writer Dawn Know to tell us more about the project:
I had no idea when a friend asked me to write 'a little sketch about some World War One soldiers', that it would grow into a series of short scenes about the First World War and would specifically follow the lives of three service men from three different countries.
My knowledge of World War One was limited, to say the least, so I read as much as I could, especially first hand accounts of service men and of course, I researched George Burnett, from Great Britain, Albert Kiekert, from Germany and Louis Vallin, from France.
There are many different approaches to writing about World War One but I wanted to concentrate on the shared experience which would have been common to many service men - whatever their nationality. I wanted to show the men's desire to protect their countries and families, the atrocious conditions they endured in the trenches and to mention that initially, at least, there was optimism that the troubles would soon be over.
During my research, I encountered numerous acts of heroism and bravery and I was touched to read about men who witnessed the enemy behaving so courageously, that civility and respect pushed aside all thoughts of killing. For me, those accounts were tiny points of light in what was otherwise a depressing story of death and despair. 
At all cost, I wanted to avoid condemnation of any country. Yes, we were enemies, but we all shared the horror and pain.
I also wanted to avoid any hint of triumphalism. The loss on all sides was too great.
And finally, I wanted the script to be a tribute - not only to the three service men, George Burnett, Albert Kiekert and Louis Vallin - but to all the men and women who served their countries and shared the dark days we now call the First World War. 

May we all remember them and honour them by striving for a peaceful future.
Musical direction for the concert was arranged by Fricklesome Amsel from Heiligenhaus

Basildon Choral Society

Narrator Natalie Taylor-Scotcher speaking with Albert Kiekert

Fricklesome Amsel rehearsing with pupils from Pitsea Junior School

Pitsea Junior School Choir

Suzanne Vallin, Daughter of Louis Vallin (one of the soldiers in the concert) meets our script writer Dawn Knox for the first time

George Burnett and Albert Kiekert

The Christmas Truce

British Sargeant played by Andrew Lindfield chatting to a German Solider during the Christmas Truce

Louis Vallin reading first hand accounts of what it was like during WW1

MP Stephen Metcalfe reading a soldiers letter from WW1

George Burnett, The Narrator, Albert Kiekert, British Solider and Louis Vallin

Madame Vallin from Meaux, Thomas Rickal from Heiligenhaus and Mayor Mo Larkin from Basildon lay wreaths at the end of the productions

The three wreaths from three nations

The fabulous Plaamatising that arranged all the sound, lights and technical "stuff" for the concert

Madame Vallin and Script writer Dawn Knox chatting after the production

The cast of Dot Productions

Tony Ball, Thomas Rickal, Mayor Mo Larkin, MP Stephen Metcalfe and Head of Twinning Bob Sheridan after the concert
Photos by David Smith