THE year is 1941 and rehearsals for Henry V are underway…
The play, Greyhounds, entwines Shakespeare’s famous story of ‘warlike Harry’ with the everyday trials and tribulations of small village life during World War Two.
Whilst the war rages above them, the residents of Shuttlefield village struggle to stage a production of Henry V to raise money for their local Spitfire fund.
The first play by new young writer, Laura Crow, Greyhounds premiered at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival in July 2017 where it sold out, leading to a second run in September 2017.
This year, Time & Again Theatre Company will be travelling to Edinburgh to perform the play at the city’s Fringe festival.
However, it started life with a very different goal in mind: to prove a distraction during a low period of mental health.
Laura, now 24, has suffered from OCD since she was 15 and, at her worst, was unable to leave the house, having to check locks and turn lights on and off 86 times.
Writing Greyhounds began as a way to divert her mind from the condition. It was written in the early hours of the morning, when her OCD is at its worst, often leaving her unable to sleep.
Said Laura: “Writing gave me something to focus on. It distracted me from the compulsive thoughts and rituals that become so bad in the evenings. I’ve always felt drawn to the past, epspecially the 1940s and soon I’d developed a whole set of characters and a story that had to be finished. People in a time of crisis – at breaking point – resonated with my state of mind.”
In the show, Laura plays the character of Katherine Winters, a young woman incredibly gifted at spotting numbers and patterns, but unable to find her place in the world.
“Katherine struggles with social interaction, adapting to any change in her routine or understanding any form of subtext. She is perceived as strange by her fellow characters, who keep their distance from her at the start of the play. They don’t really understand how she thinks and that makes them uneasy.”
But Katherine grows in confidence throughout, before finally leaving to do vital war work at Bletchley Park. In creating Katherine, Laura wanted to show the strength and resilience of an ‘outsider’ that feels alienated from the world around them by their ability to see things differently – an all too common feeling for those that suffer with mental health problems.
“Katherine harnesses her individuality to help the war effort and become more than anyone expected. I poured a little piece of my own soul into creating her and I’m so excited to get a chance to portray her at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer.”
“The play addresses a range of very big issues (the morality of war, pacifism, feminism, family obligation, domestic violence) and at its heart is an exploration of the nature of courage and personal fulfilment.” – Unrestricted Views
Time & Again formed last summer as a new young theatre company wishing to explore the vintage, historical and antiquarian in ways that are fresh and relevant for today. They had the hugely exciting opportunity, earlier in the year, to get up close with some of the aircraft that flew during WWII; including a Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane and Douglas Dakota.
Yorkshire Air Museum allowed the company access to their splendid collection to stage promotional images for the Festival (taken by the superb Tom Barker). “The aviation of World War Two has become so iconic that it’s humbling to be given the opportunity to sit in and stand next to such incredible machines,” said Laura. “It’s not often you get to pose with a Spitfire and doing so on the RAF100 year felt particularly special.” The experience was completed by wearing replica vintage clothing by the Seamstress of Bloomsbury, who have provided them with costumes for both their photos and the full run in Edinburgh.
Greyhounds will run at the Edinburgh Fringe from the 3rd -18th August at 8.15pm at theSpace on the Mile.
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Contact: Laura Crow