Edith beechey



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LEAVING HOME: Concert Performance

By

Andrew Westerside



and

Conan Lawrence

University of Lincoln

School of Performing Arts

Brayford Pool

Lincoln. LN6 7TS


awesterside@lincoln.ac.uk
01522 837672

Cast of Characters
AMY BEECHEY: Susan Freebury

EDITH BEECHEY: Stephanie Jackson

MARGARET BEECHEY: Phoebe Wall-Palmer

WINNIE BEECHEY: Lizzy Hayes

KATHERINE BEECHEY: Charlotte Mooney

FRANCES BEECHEY: Ellie Coleridge

BARNARD BEECHEY: Samuel Mant

CHARLES BEECHEY: Samuel Davis

CHRISTOPHER BEECHEY: Jon Coleman

FRANK BEECHEY: George Creighton

LEONARD BEECHEY: Alex Watson

ERIC BEECHEY: Tom Briggs

HAROLD BEECHEY: Martyn Horner-Glister

SAMUEL BEECHEY: Jake Robinson

CHILDREN: TBD
MUSIC The Royal Anglian Regimental Band, Royal Air Force Cranwell Military Wives Choir, Nick Bruce (Piper, Scunthorpe and District Pipe Band)

STAGE MANAGER Gemma Smart

DIRECTOR Andrew Westerside

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Conan Lawrence


ACT I – TODAY’S THE DAY

ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENTAL BAND:

THE BAND ARE POSITIONED IN THE BANDSTAND AS THE AUDIENCE ARRIVE, RESPLENDENT IN THEIR UNIFORMS. THEY ARE FREE TO TUNE UP DURING THIS PERIOD, TO CREATE A SENSE OF ATMOSPHERE AND ANITICPATION. THEY ACT NATURALLY AND FREELY, MAKING ANY PREPARATIONS NECESSARY. THEIR CUE TO BEGIN THE FIRST NUMBER WILL COME THROUGH VOICE COMMS.



1. ROSES OF PICARDY (00:03:46)

AS THE BAND STRIKE UP, CHILDREN EMERGE THROUGH THE AUDIENCE AND AS THEY BREAK THROUGH TO THE FRONT, THEY BEGIN RUNNING ALONG THE PATH TOWARDS THE ‘LION’. AFTER 10-OR-SO METERS, THEY SWING TO THE RIGHT AND RUN OVER TO THE BANDSTAND. AFTER WATCHING FOR A MOMENT, THEY BEGIN TO ‘PLAY SOLDIERS’.

AT THE SAME TIME, ERIC AND LEN CROSS FROM L-R ON THE TOP ‘PROMENADE’ SECTION, ON THEIR BIKES. AMY, SAM, EDIE AND MARGARET ARE AT THE VERY TOP OF THE STONE STEPS, AND WILL WALK DOWN THEM IN TIME SUCH THAT THEY ‘MEET’ ERIC AND LEN, THEY WILL STOP BRIEFLY TO SAY HELLO, AND THEN ERIC AND LEN WILL CONTINUE, OUT OF SIGHT AND BACK ROUND TO THE ‘LION’ FROM THE REAR. THE OTHERS REMAIN ON THE PROMENADE, WATCHING THE BAND AND OCCASIONALLY POINTING, CHATTING EXCITEDLY.

FRANCES, CHRIS, AND WINNIE, WALK TOGETHER, COMING ALONGSIDE (TO THE LEFT OF) AND THEN PAST THE AUDIENCE, MOVING TOWARDS THE AREA JUST BEFORE THE ‘LION’ STATUE, AFTER TAKING A MOMENT TO WATCH THE BAND.

KAT, HAROLD AND FRANK EMERGE FROM THE SECTION OF PATH CONCEALED BY THE ‘LION’, THEY TAKE 5-10 STEPS ON TO THE GRASS ON ‘OUR SIDE’ OF THE STATUE TO WATCH THE BAND. IT IS AT THIS LOCATION THAT ALL FAMILY MEMBERS ARE AIMING TO GATHER. WHEN EACH GROUP IS IN VIEW OF THIS TRIO, THEY MAY POINT, WAVE, AND ALERT EACH OTHER TO THE PRESENCE OF THE OTHERS. OTHERWISE, THEY SHOULD BE WATCHING THE BAND WITH OCCASIONAL (UNHEARD) POCKETS OF CONVERSATION

BAR AND CHARLES ARE WALKING ALONG THE LOWER PATH, PARRALEL WITH MONKS ROAD, HEADING IN OUR DIRECTION. AS THEY SEE THE AUDIENCE, AND THE BAND, THEY TURN TO CUT ACROSS THE GRASS IN OUR DIRECTION. BAR STAYS BY THE BANDSTAND, HAROLD TOO, FOR A MOMENT, BEFORE CARRYING ON TO REACH THE REMAINDER OF THE FAMILY.

AMY, EDIE, MARGARET AND SAM CONTINUE DOWN THE STEPS TOWARDS THE REST OF THE FAMILY. THEY GREET EACH GROUP THAT ARRIVES, AND CHATTER TOGETHER AND AS THE MUSIC FINISHES, THE FOLLOWING VOICEOVER BEGINS. THE FAMILY DO NOT REACT TO THIS TEXT, EXCEPT EDIE, WHO LOOKS AT THE SPEAKER OVER HER LEFT SHOULDER.

V/O: July 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand has been shot dead by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, rich with pride, declares war on Serbia -Russia, on Austria. August: Germany declares war on Russia, then France. Europe is collapsing under the weight of war. Britain, at first, shows little interest in the fate of her European neighbours, but by the terms of a treaty to protect Belgium and sheer force of gravity her involvement seems inevitable.

The soldiers of the British Army, and those they leave behind, are unaware that they are entering into a war so bloody, so brutal that it bears no comparison to any conflict before it.

AS THE VOICEOVER FINISHES, EDIE STEPS FORWARD, OUT OF THE GROUP, AND ADDRESSES THE AUDIENCE.

EDIE: It’s August 4th, 1914. My mother, Amy Beechey, leaves her house on Avondale St –just over there (SHE POINTS), to come and see the band play in the Arboretum. I’m Edie, and at seventeen, I’m the second youngest of thirteen brothers and sisters. (AS SHE SPEAKS, SHE MOVES BACK OVER TO THE FAMILY, BEING NEAR EACH BROTHER OR SISTER, AND NODDING TO THEM, OR PATTING THEM ON THE SHOULDER, AS SHE SAYS THEIR NAME). By 1890 my mother had given birth to eight children in twelve years. Barnard (POINTING), Charles, Maud, Leonard, Christopher, Frances, Frank and Eric. Maud died of measles, a few days short of her sixth birthday -before I was born. A year after Eric, Harold was born, then my sisters: Katherine, Margaret, and Winifrede. Then me, and finally, in 1899, Sam –a whole twenty-two years younger than Bar.

At eleven o’clock tonight our country will be at war. All eight of my brothers -my brave, silly, wilful brothers, are going to fight, even Sam. It’s summertime, so everyone’s back home in Lincoln to talk, and laugh, and be with each other.

Our father, Prince William Thomas Beechey was Rector of the parish of Friesthorpe and Snarford, nine miles north of here, on the way to Market Rasen. He died two years ago, and the winding lanes, fields and forests of Friesthorpe seem like a distant memory. We moved from the Rectory in Friesthorpe to Lincoln in 1912. It’s full of motorcars, factories and gaslights. (PAUSE) And war. Not the cavalry on horseback kind. The snarling, howling, knee-deep in mud, cold, hungry and scared kind. The kind fought by machines for killing. So we’re here today, together, to listen to the band and be happy. And try, just for a while, to forget about everything else. Look at them, with their bright uniforms and brass buttons. Looks like fun, being a soldier –a glorious adventure.

ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENTAL BAND:

2. THE GRENADIER (TWICE THROUGH – 00:01:46)

AS THEY PLAY, FRANCES AND AMY SIT DOWN ON THE WHITE BENCH WHICH IS BEHIND AND TO THE RIGHT OF THEM. SAM MOVES TO TAKE HIS PLACE ON THE WALL WHICH SEPARATES THE LOWER SECTION OF GRASS FROM THE TOP PROMENADE. ERIC AND LEN HEAD DOWN TOWARDS BAR WITH THEIR BIKES, BUT STAND 10-OR-SO PACES BEHIND HIM. THE REST OF THE FAMILY MOVE TO THE GRASSY AREA THAT SEPARATES AMY AND FRANCES FROM SAM. ONE OF THEM IS CARRYING A BLANKET, WHICH THEY SIT DOWN ON AND AGAIN BEGIN TO TALK AMONGST THEMSELVES. AS THE BAND FINISH BAR, WHO IS LEANING ON THE RAILING OF THE BANDSTAND LOOKING OVER AT THE MUSICIANS, TURNS TO THE AUDIENCE AND SPEAKS.



BAR: Barnard Beechey, Schoolmaster and employee of Lincoln Education Board. (HE PERCHES HIMSELF ON ONE OF THE RAILINGS THAT SURROUND THE BANDSTAND) August 4th. They look wonderful, don’t they, all properly turned out. I’m something of a military man myself, you know. I used to command the Officer Training Corps down in Dorchester, leading the cadets on manoeuvres, charging them up the hill to attack Maiden castle. Saw one of my old pals the other day, William. He was passing through Lincoln on his way north to visit family. Got a brother in the reserves. Made me think. Made me think I could do it for real, join up –make everyone proud. Not quite sure if they’ll take me at my age, though, not at thirty-seven. (PAUSE) Thirty-seven years old. I don't know where the years disappear to, or what I've got to show for them. (PAUSE) Maybe I need it, this war. A few months overseas, a smart uniform and army pay, come home and find myself a wife -although perhaps I’m a bit old for that too, now. (1/2 PAUSE) It’s a strange day. Everyone’s talking about it, but they’re not. It’s on everyone’s lips, but there’s not a lot being said. I suppose there isn’t much to say. I should think we’ll all just go back to work and let the army do what they do best, if it comes to it. Thing’s might get a little tighter a home for a while, but I should think it’ll all be done by Christmas –they’re expensive things, wars –too expensive to drag them out longer than necessary, anyhow.

It’s hard to believe we’ve aged, sometimes. We were children only yesterday, I’m half-certain of it. But then I look at Edie, all grown up, and it reminds me that the rest of us are men –even Sam’s not far off. In the blink of an eye we're men, children in bodies we don't recognise, but somehow become used to. Good men, kind, thoughtful men -I hope. We’re around a little more often now that Father’s gone. Mother never mentions it, but I think she likes us being here, together –I think it reminds her, well, all of us I suppose, of Friesthorpe –of being a family, before so many of us left home.



AS BAR SAYS HIS LAST LINE, THE BAND MOVE OUT OF THE BANDSTAND AND TAKE UP A MARCHING FORMATION. ONCE ARRANGED, THEY IMMEDIATELY BEGIN TO PLAY THEIR NEXT PIECE (GLORIOUS VICTORY). AS THEY DO SO, THEY MOVE FROM THE BANDSTAND TO THE AREA OPPOSITE THE ‘LION’, FORMING TWO EVENLY SIZED GROUPS EITHER SIDE BASE OF THE STONE STEPS THAT LEAD TO THE UPPER SECTION OF THE ARBORETUM. BAR, ERIC AND LEN FOLLOW THEM AND LEAD THE AUDIENCE, PROVIDING THEM WITH A SIMPLE CUE IF THEY DON’T IMMEDIATELY BEGIN TO FOLLOW (A NOD OF THE HEAD, WAVE OF THE ARM, ETC). BAR, ERIC AND LEN MOVE TO THE RIGHT OF THE LION STATUE PROVIDING A NATURAL BARRIER FOR THE AUDIENCE, DETERMINING HOW FAR DOWN THE PATH THEY ARE ABLE TO GATHER.

ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENTAL BAND:

3. GLORIOUS VICTORY (TWICE THROUGH – 00:02:52)

CHRIS: Christopher Beechey. I've been working in London with our Len for the past few years but to be honest with you I don't really like it. I prefer the outdoors – there’s a family flair for numbers, but I didn't get it. So I'm going to Australia, and I'm trying to convince Harold to come with me. There's a great deal of work out there in a place called the Wheatbelt. It's on the west coast of Australia, near Perth. It's cooler than the rest of the country and there's a fair bit of rain, so most of the farming happens there - wheat and grain - the Wheatbelt. I'd stay in Lincolnshire if it weren't so bloody cold all the time. London wasn't for me, either. I'm sure it's marvellous if you like it, I know Len does, but no, not for me. I think I missed the family too much. There’s something strange about being around so many people and not knowing anyone. It'd be a thing if this war started though, wouldn't it? The whole of Europe – not sure I can really imagine what that means, but it'd be a bloody good war, no doubt. Can't see us getting involved though to be honest with you -leave 'em to squabble and if they get too boisterous we'll pop over and give them taste of the Empire.

SAM: Samuel Beechey, Schoolboy, De Aston School. I'm the youngest -and last, child, of Amy and Prince William Beechey. It's okay being the youngest, all of them were the youngest once, except for Bar. I wish I was a bit older now, though, because if that war gets going I want to be out there! What an adventure, can you imagine? Bar tells me all about the drill he used to do with the cadets, it sounds so exciting. Marching here, charging there, all shiny buttons and sharp creases -folks cheering you on as you parade past, oh yes, that'll do for me. Charles bought me a copy of Treasure Island last Christmas. I must have read it ten times now! It's about a boy called Jim Hawkins, who's the same age as me, and he finds a treasure map that used to belong to a pirate called Captain Flint -so he goes off to sea on a ship called the Hispanola, and he fights pirates, and searches for treasure. There's one pirate in particular, Long John Silver, and he's wicked, but Jim's fond of him in a way. I asked Charles about that, and he said I'd understand when I was older. When you're older, Sam. Not yet, Sam. Soon, Sam. Honestly, though, it's the best story ever. In the book, Jim's father had just died, which is a bit like me, really. He just goes off on his own and has amazing adventures. I've got family here, of course, but I think I'd like to be like Jim... It's not fair. I'll tell you what though if the army needed me I'd be there quick as a shot, you bet I would. Mother tells me not to wish my life away, but even if I was just as old as Harold I could sign up and be out of here tomorrow. No more school, just sand and sea and adventure, just like Jim Hawkins...

DURING THE FOLLOWING V/O, THE BROTHERS MAKE THEIR WAY OVER TO AMY AND FRANCES, WHO STAND TO GREET THEM AS THEY COME OVER. SHE KISSES EACH OF THEM ON THE CHEEK, AND THEY HEAD OFF DOWN THE PATH (PAST THE RADIO CAR – TOWARDS THE UPPER SECTION OF THE ARBORETUM WHERE THEY WILL CHANGE INTO THEIR MILITARY UNIFORMS). MARGARET, EDIE, KAT AND WINNIE REMAIN AT THE BLANKET.



V/O: August 4th. Germany invades Belgium, and Britain takes immediate action, committing herself to the most violent and bloody conflict the world has ever known; a conflict which -at its conclusion, will have stolen more than fifty million lives.

At the outbreak of war, Parliament calls for an extra 100,000 soldiers. In late August, the British suffer heavy casualties at the Battle of Mons, and are forced to retreat. Military service remains on a voluntary basis, with conscription still eighteen months away in January 1916. Nevertheless Lincoln, as with many other towns and cities, sees an enormous surge in recruitment. Thousands of brave young men, up and down the country, head to recruiting offices to do their duty.

AS THE V/O FINISHES, THE BAND IMMEDIATELY STRIKE UP.

ACT II – THE WAR AT HOME

ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENTAL BAND:

4. THE GRENADIER (TWICE THROUGH – 00:01:46)

DURING THIS PIECE, THE CHOIR MAKE THEIR WAY FROM THE UPPER SECTION OF THE ARBORETUM, DOWN THE FIRST SET OF STONE STEPS, IN TWO LINES. AS THEY REACH THE PLATEAU BEFORE THE FINAL SET OF STEPS, THEY ARRANCE THEMSELVES INTO TWO GROUPS –ONE EITHER SIDE OF THE STEPS, MIRRORING THE POSITION OF THE BAND, BUT ONE LEVEL HIGHER UP. AT THE END OF THE GRENADIER, AND AFTER A SHORT PAUSE, THE CHOIR AND BAND BEGIN THEIR NEXT PIECE.



ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENTAL BAND & MILITARY WIVES CHOIR:

5. KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING (00:02:11)

BY THE TIME THE BAND/CHOIR HAVE FINISHED, AMY AND FRANCES ARE SAT ON THEIR BENCH ONCE MORE.



FRANCES: You’re worried.

AMY: Of course I’m worried. They’re my boys, Fran. It doesn’t matter how old they get.

FRANCES: They’ll look after one another.

AMY: How, Frances? Half of them are teachers. I know they’ve been in a few scrapes but this isn’t like getting a bloody nose in a schoolyard.

FRANCES: I didn’t mean it like that.

AMY: (INTERRUPTING) I know. I’m sorry. (PAUSE) They’re such good boys. So clever. War’s no place for them. For anyone.

FRANCES: You heard what Charles said. They’re just making up the numbers. Nothing serious, nothing dangerous. You’ve seen it in the newspapers; we’ll have them back by Christmas, and there’ll be plenty of time to tell them how silly they all are.

AMY: (AS IF SHE’S THINKING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE) Christmas…

FRANCES: Yes, Christmas. All of us, in that little house! It’ll be lovely. We’ll all go out to Friesthorpe for carols. And until then we’ve got each other. We won’t panic, won’t grumble, and the whole awful thing will be behind us.

ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENTAL BAND:

6. DEATH MARCH FROM SAUL (00:03:19)

4 BARS AFTER SAUL BEGINS, THE FOLLOWING VOICEOVER PLAYS ON TOP OF THE MUSIC.



AMY V/O: They’re going, all eight, and each of them will have a story, but I can’t tell them. My baby boys, who I learnt to wash and feed, learnt their cries and gurgles, gave them words to speak and toys to break, now they’re leaving home to fight. The worst of it, as a mother? I can’t protect them, and my blood runs cold. How can I tell you their stories and not shatter? I can’t, I’m sorry. (PAUSE) I go on running the house as before, but I don’t like the language of war and I don’t like what it brings home. I’m supposed to show a bold front, attack on the kitchen front: sounds as resolute as the front page of a paper. But when I leave the front door I pass war widows in black and the wounded in bandages and I realise that their fragility is my boys’ fragility too. What use will their intelligence be when they comes up against what hurt these boys? I want them to kill. This is how I fight: wanting other mothers, the enemy’s mothers, to lose their sons so mine can come home. I will go to bed every night praying that the enemy’s mothers will lose their sons, and I’m ashamed.

BEFORE SAUL FINISHES, THE BOYS ARE RETURNING IN THEIR UNIFORMS. MARGARET AND KAT SEE THEM FIRST, STAND, AND STAND MOTIONLESS. MARGARET COVERS HER MOUTH, THE IMPACT OF WHAT THIS MEANS, OR MIGHT MEAN, IS BEGINNING TO SINK IN. EDIE RUNS TO FRANK, WINNIE TO CHRIS, AND THEY ALL HEAD TOWARDS AMY AND FRANCES, WHO STAND. THEY EXCHANGE (UNHEARD) FAREWELLS, AND AMY HOLDS SAM TIGHTLY, AFTER THE BROTHERS HAVE TURNED TO LEAVE. HE HAS TO RUN SLIGHTLY TO CATCH UP WITH THEM. FRANCES PUTS HER ARM AROUND AMY, WHILE MARGARET AND EDIE HOLD HANDS. THEY BROTHERS HEAD TOWARDS THE BASE OF THE STONE STEPS, IN FRONT OF THE LION. THEY LINE UP, SIDE-BY-SIDE, AND BAR TAKES THE FIRST STRIDE FORWARD, ALONE. HE TURNS BACK TO LOOK AT HIS BROTHERS, NODS, AND THEY ALL FOLLOW HIM. AS THEY TAKE THIS FIRST UNISON STEP, THE CHOIR IMMEDIATELY BEGIN THEIR PIECE.



MILITARY WIVES CHOIR:

7. O LOVE THAT WILL NOT LET ME GO

THE BROTHERS HEAD ALL THE WAY UP THE STAIRS, AT A MODERATE PACE. HALF WAY, CHRIS TURNS BACK TOWARDS AMY AND THE SISTERS, AND WAVES. WINNIE RUNS TOWARDS US, AND GOES ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS TO WATCH THEM GO. SHE STARES FORWARDS UNTIL THEY ARE OUT OF SIGHT, AND CLIMBS THE FIRST FEW STEPS, AS IF SHE COULD FOLLOW THEM. SHE PAUSES, AND TURNS, SITTING DOWN ON THE STEP.



V/O: Thousands saw our Territorials off on Tuesday. There wasn’t even a cheer. The streets were a mass of waving handkerchiefs and well expressed good wishes. But nothing further -it will be quite time to cheer when it has been safely got over, and history will surely record this as the best organized war the world has ever fought. Lincoln is organising a great brotherhood: brothers in arms, brothers in distress, brothers, if need be, in Valhalla. The despatch of the Lincolnshire Territorials is eloquent of the utter absence of anything approaching excitement in this historic farewell. Everybody quite understood: this is real War.

WINNIE: And they were gone. Just, gone. And the war at home begins. Not the one where you grow your own vegetables and keep your house clean, the real war at home. The war of nerves, the war inside your own head. We wait, and watch, as wounded soldiers come back from the front lines and hobble down these steps. We meet Belgian refugees who’ve made it to Lincoln, away from the people who burned them out of house and home. Then before you know it it’s Christmas. And they’re not home –not even close. Mother fills the rooms with light, and we do all fit in that little house. There’s room to spare, and for once, the Beechey girls outnumber the boys. We reminisce, and for a while it fills in the gaps where my brothers should be. We thought they’d be home by now. None of us are that naïve any more. Fran reminds us of Harold jumping ditches, while Kat counts how many he fell in. We sit and talk for as long as possible, not wanting the day to end. Letters arrive, and postcards. You try and picture where they are, what they’re doing. Letters that bridge the distance and remind you of it. A postmark, a date, an exotic looking stamp –and for a moment they come back, over seas and fields, travelling on the ink they wrote with.

FRANK V/O: Sorry Mother -we’ve been confined to barracks over Christmas, and to make it worse they’ve given us nothing to do. But there’s plenty of time to read, and reading soaks up time. I read anything I can get my hands on -cheap thrillers, old penny dreadfuls, the papers full of heroes and medals, though I do skip the casualty lists. More letters from you and Edie please.

BAR V/O: Mother, we came into the trenches again last night. I was on duty till one a.m. and up again for ‘stand-to’, when we grab our rifles and wait before dawn in case of attack. We do the same at dusk. It’ll soon be winter here and the nights are getting cold already. Outdoor living is…bracing. We sleep in corners of the trench shrouded in green army capes. We look like statues about to be unveiled. Can you send me a muffler please?

ACT III – RETURN

ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENTAL BAND & MILITARY WIVES CHOIR:

8. GOING HOME (00:01:44)

DURING THIS PIECE, WINNIE IS JOINED BY MARGARET, WHO SITS DOWN NEXT TO HER. THEY WATCH THE BAND, AND OCCASIONALLY TURN BACK TO SEE THE CHOIR, TOO. WHEN THE PIECE FADES, MARGARET SPEAKS.



MARGARET: I have a recurring dream, where I walk over battered fields. Shells are going off nearby, but I’m in no danger. I find one of my brothers in a trench and float into it. It changes every time. This time, it’s Bar. In the distance someone shouts. Bar wakes, and his greatcoat falls to the floor. He turns, surprised, and I see he’s only ten years old, in a man’s uniform. He’s pleased to see me. Then the voice I heard is much nearer. We both know it’s shouting in German and Bar’s face shows great fear. He reaches for his rifle and clasps it in both hands, but it’s too big for him to lift, and the shouting’s even closer. He looks at me, about to cry, then the Germans appear, giants of men looming over us. I try to shield him, to put myself between them, but I can’t move, can’t reach him. They jump into the trench, great boots shaking the earth, I try to wave my arms to distract them from him but I can’t move.

Bar puts his hands up to surrender, tears streaming down his face, pleading with me to help. They roar at him then charge, bayonets first, and he’s bawling my name and I can’t move and he’s bawling and I wake up. And I can’t help. I can’t help any of them.



FRANCES: He was wounded and he fell in the midst of hoarse shouting. The tide passed, and the waves came and whispered about his ankles.

Far off he heard a cock crow -children laughing, Rising at dawn to greet the storm of petals Shaken from apple-boughs; he heard them cry, and turned again to find the breast of her, and sank confused with a little sigh.

Thereafter water running, and a voice that seemed to stir and flutter through the trenches. And set dead lips to talking...Wreckage was mingled with the storm of petals.

He felt her near him, and the weight dropped off, suddenly.



EDIE V/O: We hear nothing for weeks. We’re veterans by now, even a seventeen year old like me, and know that post gets delayed and sometimes lost. On the 16th of October I hear footsteps stop outside the house. I walk into the hall and watch a letter, brown as an autumn leaf, drop onto the mat. I take it to mother in the kitchen. It’s for you.

AMY V/O: Do you recognise the writing?

EDIE V/O: My mother takes the letter-knife and opens the envelope. She lifts out a single, folded sheet. As she begins to read I remember going home to the Rectory all those years ago. “Is it from Bar?” I ask. She just stands there. I see her hand start to shake, and she just stands there. “Mother?” I call out to her, but somehow she’s not there; she’s over the fields looking for her boys –other people’s lives flashing before her eyes.

V/O: To Mrs A Beechey, 14, Avondale Street, Lincoln. Army Form B.104-82, No.9521. Infantry Record Office, Lichfield Station.

BY THE END OF THIS VOICEOVER, THE PIPER HAS MADE HIS WAY DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THE STONE STEPS. AFTER A SHORT PAUSE FOLLOWING THE END OF THE TEXT, HE BEGINS TO PLAY.



ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENTAL BAND & PIPER:

9. AMAZING GRACE (00:03:04)

THE PIPER PLAYS THE FIRST ROUND OF AMAZING GRACE SOLO. AS HE STRIKES HIS FIRST NOTE WINNIE, WHO IS STILL SAT BEHIND HIM ON THE STEPS, STANDS UP AND COVERS HER MOUTH WITH HER HAND, AS IF TAKING IN A DEEP SHOCK. AFTER BEING FROZEN FOR A SECOND, SHE RUSHES DOWN THE STEPS AND TOWARDS AMY AND FRANCES, WHO ARE AT THE BENCH AND HAVE BEEN JOINED BY THE OTHER SISTERS. AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SECOND VERSE, THE BAND JOIN IN AND, LED BY THE PIPER, THEY MAKE THEIR WAY BACK TO THE BANDSTAND. WHEN THEY ARRIVE, THEY RETURN TO THEIR ORIGINAL POSITIONS. AMAZING GRACE ENDS, BUT THE DRUMMER CONTINUES WITH THREE FURTHER BEATS OF THE DRUM, AT THE SAME TEMPO AS THE MUSIC. BY THEN END OF THE MUSIC, AMY IS SAT ON THE BENCH, ALONE. THE SISTERS HAV WALKED DOWN TO THE BANDSTAND TO WATCH/LISTEN.



AMY V/O: To Mrs A Beechey, 14, Avondale Street, Lincoln. Army Form B.104-82, No.9521. Infantry Record Office, Lichfield Station. Madam -it is my painful duty to inform you that a report has this day been received from the War Office notifying the death of 13773 Sergeant BR Beechey, Lincolnshire Regiment, which occurred at (Place not stated) on the 25th of September 1915, and I am to express to you the sympathy and regret of the Army council at your loss.

AMY: What shall I do with his muffler, then? I didn’t finish it in time and he needed it. What if he was cold when he... I wanted a picture of him wearing it in his trench -I should have finished the muffler Edie, I should have got it done -what must he think of me? -I let him down Edie -I should’ve got up earlier and finished it -Why don’t they say where he died? -Why? I know he’s dead but I want to tend his wounds, brush the mud from his handsome brow, straighten his collar like I did when he went to school. I turn in my sleep: sometimes there I forget you’re dead. But when you fell you should’ve had a mother’s arms to hold you, not the dirt and the mud; a patch of earth that doesn’t even know your name.

FRANCES: There were more letters. More than we could bear. Five, in all. Which leaves three; the three who came home. But in a way they didn’t. They weren’t the same people that left. Sam, little Sam -an Officer. We were so pleased and relieved, of course we were, but they reminded us even more of the ones who never came back. And the pain of those letters. A pain that never ends.

ROYAL ANGLIAN REGIMENTAL BAND:

10. NIMROD (00:03:07)

AFTER 30 SECONDS OF MUSIC, THE FOLLOWING SEQUENCE BEGINS: AT THE START OF THE PIECE, CHRIS, SAM AND ERIC ARE MAKING THEIR WAY DOWN THE STONE STEPS AND HEADING TOWARDS AMY. AS THEY PASS PAST THE ‘LION’ AND INTO VIEW, EDIE SEES THEM, AND THEY ALL – FRANCES INCLUDED – RUN TO HUG AND KISS AND HOLD THEM. SAM BREAKS AWAY FROM THE GROUP FIRST, AND TAKES 5-10 PACES FORWARDS, TOWARDS AMY. SHE STANDS, AND HE STOPS. AFTER A PAUSE HE STRIDES BRISKLY TOWARDS HER, PAUSING AGAIN FOR AN INSTANT WHEN HE REACHES HER, HE THEN FALLS INTO HER ARMS, BURYING HIS HEAD INTO HER NECK, AND SHE STROKES THE BACK OF HIS HEAD. THE FOLLWING VOICEOVER PLAYS WHILE THEY ARE IN THEIR EMBRACE:



V/O 58708 Private CR Beechey, Royal Fusiliers; 101472 Second Lieutenant FCR Beechey, East Yorkshire Regiment; Lance Corporal 200, HR Beechey, Australian Infantry; 593763 Rifleman LR Beechey, London Irish Rifles. I am to express to you the sympathy and regret of the Army Council at your loss. The cause of death was: Killed in Action.

AMY: (TO SAM, WHO SHE IS STILL HOLDING) don’t forget them. Any of them.

THE OTHERS ARE APPROACHING NOW, AND ERIC AND CHRIS EACH HAVE A MOMENT WITH AMY. AFTER THIS, WINNIE SPEAKS.



WINNIE: Let’s go home.

THE FAMILY LEAVE, WHILE NIMROD FINISHES. SAM LINKS ARMS WITH AMY. CHRIS HAS HIS ARM AROUND WINNIE. ERIC WALKS WITH KAT.



END



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