Great War Theatre

The Great War Theatre project is currently developing work packs for teachers to support Drama, English and History curricula. We can also offer bespoke workshops, packs and classroom activities around specific themes. If you would like to find out more about this please get in touch. 


Work Pack 1. Recruiting Plays: A Call to Arms by Bertrand Davis (1914)

A Call to Arms  was written and first performed in September 1914, only a month after war had broken out.  You can download the script by clicking on the image. 

Read the Script and answer the following questions:

  1. What reasons are given for Britain going to war?
  2. Why does Harry decide to enlist?
  3. Do you think the play would have been effective in making audiences take action?

Activities:

  1. Experiment with different tunes to accompany the two songs in the play. What kinds of tunes work best?
  2. List the reasons for and against enlisting given in the play. Which argument is most effective? Can you think of any other reasons?
  3. Research what the job of a recruiting sergeant was.
  4. When the Lord Chamberlain licensed a play for performance one of his officials had to write a summary of the play. You can find examples of these summaries by searching the database. Write a short summary of this play commenting on any aspects which would or would not make it appropriate for audiences at the time.

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Work Pack 2. Propaganda in Theatre: My Superior Officer by Michael Morton (1916)

 

My Superior Officer was first performed in November 1916, just as the Battle of the Somme was finishing. You can download the original script to use by clicking on the image above. 

Read the Script and answer the following questions:

  1. What is Dick angry about when he gets home from the hospital?
  2. What is the play telling audiences to do?
  3. Do you think the play would have been effective in making audiences take action?

Activities:

  1. Write a letter from Dick to his mates in the trenches explaining what happened when he came home.
  2. Research War Savings and find out why it was important for people to save their money during the war.
  3. Read or act the play out from p.14 where Jim says ‘Tell us about the trenches’. What emotions are felt by the characters at each point?
  4. Read the Examiner of Plays’ summary at the start of the script. Do you agree with what they have written about the play? Why?