Set in the trenches, Dark Clouds focused on the mental, emotional and physical effects WW1 had on veterans and their families. The productions involved 470 professional and non-professional performers aged between eight and 80. They took place in Derby, Lincolnshire, Nottingham, East Lindsey and Scunthorpe, and attracted audiences of 1,600.
The project raised awareness of life during WW1 by focussing on themes such as living without a loved one who had gone to war. It brought together participants from a range of ages and backgrounds, who all contributed to creating the production’s music, dance and poetry.
The production tells the story of fictional characters John and Maria coping with the physical difficulties and emotional heartbreak of war through five acts, accompanied by classical music. The first and second act shows John facing the harsh conditions of the trenches whilst Maria adjusts to life along; the third and fourth act show the strength of feeling between the characters and sense of loss as they write heartfelt letters to each other; and the final act shows John struggling to adapt to life back home.
Participants took part in ‘inspiration days’ to help them with ideas for the music and dance, involving visiting a replica war trench, a museum, taking part in a marching drill and reflecting on letters written by families to their loved ones during the war.
Primary school teacher Evie Cryer said pupils who took part in one of the productions have gained confidence and an appreciation of classical music, and some have gone on to take music lessons.
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