Now Heritage Production of
‘A Mouthful of Earth’ October 2015
Now Heritage was granted £8,000 by Agincourt600 and £10,000 by Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCC) to commission Southampton Playwright Deborah Gearing to write a new forty minute piece of theatre to commemorate the 600th Centenary of the Battle of Agincourt (25th October 2015).
HCC commissioned this work specifically for Now Heritage to put on a performance to an invited audience only in Winchester Great Hall but also wished for a public performance to be put on at an unspecified venue in Bishop’s Waltham – to mark Henry V’s connection with the town prior to the battle. With the additional funding provided by Agincourt600 Now Heritage was able to produce the play to the highest standard and to extend the project to reach and educate a far wider audience by holding workshops and performances in three Hampshire schools as well as putting on public performances of the play at Fort Nelson, St Peter’s Church Bishop’s Waltham and at Lockswood Day centre in Locks Heath.
With a cast of only three actors the play tells the story of a handful of people on both sides of the channel whose lives were inextricably caught up in the war between England and France.
Tom is a young farm boy who eagerly leaves his life of toil to go off and look after the horses for the men that are to fight. Anne, his mother is furious with Tom and hopelessly tries to make him come home. Tom’s sister is also angry that she faces having to do his chores on top of her own but more significantly is jealous that as a boy Tom gets the chance to escape their mundane life. “I’d like to be able to go France!” she declares resentfully.
Marguerite of Harfleur beseeches the audience (in French) to understand her torment over the potential fate of her husband and whilst it may have challenged audiences to follow the detail of her lines, the meaning and content of her words is clear enough for all to understand.
Jack a longbow man is a compassionate character brutalised by war. He demonstrates compassion for Marguerite by allowing her to take her baby and flee her home. Later, with a few brutal, yet in the context of the battle, necessary strokes, Jack follows the Kings orders and slaughters the defeated French soldiers lest they rise to fight again.
The feedback from the project was extremely positive. All the different audiences enjoyed it and learnt something. The school workshops were very successful with all those attending praising the activities and those who organised it all.
Well done to Now Heritage from everyone at Agincourt 600!