Belgrade Young Company members perform in a new film as we revisit our production One Night in November
This November, we’re commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Coventry Blitz by revisiting our 2013 production of One Night in November. Written by local playwright Alan Pollock and directed by Hamish Glen, the acclaimed wartime drama will be streamed via our website from 14-13 November – tickets are available to book now.
One of the Belgrade Theatre’s most successful productions to date, One Night in November was originally staged in 2008 before enjoying two hugely popular revivals. It follows the story of one family’s harrowing experience of the Blitz, examining the idea that Winston Churchill may have had advance warning of the attack on the city.
The 2013 production, which is set to be streamed this month, starred Charlotte Ritchie, who has since gone on to appear in Call the Midwife and the recent BBC sitcom Ghosts. Ritchie plays 18-year-old teacher-in-training Katie Stanley, who encounters Michael (Jason Langley), an Oxford lecturer, stranded at a railway station while awaiting the all-clear signal after an air-raid warning.
This could be the beginning of a straightforward love story, but in wartime, nothing is simple. Unknown to Katie, Michael has been forced to turn his linguistic skills to deciphering German codes at Bletchley Park. Meanwhile, Katie lives with her family in Coventry – a city living under the threat of war. The Stanleys don’t know quite how serious that threat is… but Michael does.
Of course, we’re not alone in marking the occasion, and we’re proud to say that two of our Belgrade Young Company members have played a part in the creation of a commemorative film, due to be released by the Coventry Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation at 8pm on Sat 14 Nov.
The idea for the project came about after the Committee published a book on behalf of Coventry Cathedral last year. The publication, Ruined and Rebuilt by Provost Howard, tells the thrilling and emotional story of the night bombs fell on Coventry, when Provost Howard and three other men ran through the Cathedral, trying and failing to put out the fires. The very next morning, Howard resolved that the Cathedral would be rebuilt, and it was largely through his vision and leadership that Coventry was established as a city of peace and reconciliation.
Originally, the Committee had planned to host readings from the book in the ruins of the old Cathedral on the night of the 14 November. Over time, however, the idea developed of telling the story in a different way, not only from the perspective of the Cathedral, but from the points of view of a range of different people from the city.
The resulting film features the voices of Coventry people – three adults and two children – reading the words of people who lived through the Blitz. The adult readers are Paul Maddocks, Pru Poretta and Rhys Davies, all volunteers from the Lord Mayor’s Committee, while the two young people are Semilore Kaji-Hausa and Georgina Gibson from the Belgrade Theatre Young Company. Dean John Witcombe also reads the words of Provost Howard, while Committee Chair Philip Brown narrates.
Philip Brown said, “We think it is important to get young people involved in the work of the Committee. In our daily lives, most of us seldom give any thought to how lucky we are to live in a time of peace and tend to take it for granted, but we all need to be aware that it is fragile and its loss can lead to terrible consequences.
“It is the purpose of the Cathedral ruins to remind us of this fact, and the 80th anniversary of the Blitz is a time when we can reflect on this and strengthen our determination to live in harmony and friendship with our neighbours and people in other countries.
“We hope that the engagement of young actors from the Belgrade Youth Theatre, speaking the words of young people who lived through the war, will stimulate other young people to reflect on this.”
The Coventry Blitz film created by the Lord Mayor’s Committee for Peace and Reconciliation will premiere online at 8pm on Saturday 14 November. Watch online via the Coventry City of Peace website.