Ambitious new war tale hits the stage

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An ambitious and specially commissioned community theatre production can be seen in Wirksworth on October 2-4.

Gorsey Bank to Gommecourt has been written by Graham Sellors. Earlier in the year, with the centenary of World War One approaching, former mayor Andy Pollock called together a number of interested Wirksworth people to discuss the ways in which the part played in the conflict by local residents might be commemorated.

This led to local resident Graham Sellors, a former television producer and award-winning playwright, creating this new work, namechecking a neighbourhood of Wirksworth and also the site of ferocious fighting in northern France.

The play tells the story of two young quarry workers who join up. It depicts events they encounter at the Front and the experiences of their families and loved ones at home. Although the two young men are fictitious, real events and locations are drawn on throughout and give the production a highly distinctive and realistic feel.

When researching the play, for example, Graham read the full set of Urban District Council minutes and many local parish magazines and extracts from these are included in the piece.

The play is to be directed by local husband and wife team Mike and Helen Knott.

Young actors from Anthony Gell School will take leading roles alongside older townspeople. Singer-songwriters have penned and will perform tailor-made compositions alongside musicians, including a five-piece brass band. Local dancers will add to the variety of the piece.

The performances take place from 7.30pm at Wirksworth Town Hall. Tickets are £7, available from Traid Links, 20 Market Place, Wirksworth, DE4 4EJ, or on 01629 824393.

For further details, see www.facebook.com/Wirksworthcommunitytheatre

n The 80 names on the Wirksworth war memorial are the foundation for many of the stories told and will be honoured throughout the play.Although initially local in its focus, the play presents a rounded picture by broadening out to include the experiences of German soldiers and of conscientious objectors.

Despite the huge horror and tragedy of World War One, Gorsey Bank to Gommecourt manages to be an ultimately uplifting play by demonstrating the bravery, resilience, humour and love exhibited by so many who lived through those terrible times.