From the frontline of A Feast of BonesFrances Kay
We’re nearly halfway through rehearsals now, and, coincidentally I’ve been talking to my brother about our grandfather Edward Thornton Kay, who fought on the Western Front in France during the Great War. I hadn’t known this when I started work on the script for A Feast of Bones, which is set in 1918. My grandfather volunteered with one of the ‘Pals’ Regiments, The South Lancashires, and was very likely to have been injured at Messines Ridge in 1917 the day the Allied mines were detonated. This was the inspiration for the back story of one of the characters in my play. Thousands of Irishmen also volunteered; the first Victoria Cross (highest military honour for bravery) awarded to an Irishman was in 1915, to Michael O’Leary from Cork.
What’s this ancient War, that happened a hundred years ago, got to do with us? A very good question. At the time it was called ‘The War to End all Wars.’ But after that there was another World War, and then other bitter conflicts erupted that killed thousands of innocent people and are still going on today, in Syria and Afghanistan. War is a fact of our lives; in this play, we try to show how war might be built into our very genes, making it almost impossible to give up our notions of ‘enemies’ and ‘battles.’
In A Feast of Bones we don’t talk about the Great War, but you can find it there in the underlying mood of the play. The characters’ experiences of loss, grief and waste is happily counterbalanced by Theatre Lovett’s irrepressible humour and high spirits, which for me embody the most lovable aspects of a child’s personality, embracing tragedy and comedy in the same day, and always, I hope, ending the day sunny side up.
Frances Kay, Writer
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