Simon Heywood & Shonaleigh: Out of the Silence

Atrium Theatre, University of South Wales, Cardiff, CF24 2XF.

The forgotten story of the sixteen thousand who refused to kill, and the last in a series of events in collaboration with the University of South Wales’ George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling, exploring what drives us to tell the particular stories we choose to tell.

Of the millions conscripted in 1916, sixteen thous and claimed the new right to conscientious objection. Churchgoers, trade unionists, labour activists – there were so many that the state had no idea what to do with them all. Their memory has been neglected, and they are still dismissed as cranks.

As the world collapsed into a world a war, the “conchies” embarked on a bitter and courageous war against war itself. Their stand split families and communities. They suffered ridicule, torture and imprisonment. They played cat and mouse with the state. Some went mad; some died. As the strains of war brought government after government to the brink of collapse, and beyond, they dreamed and planned for a world without war. Many survived the war to embark on lives of public service. We reap the benefits of this legacy today.

Drawing on first hand accounts, letters, diaries and memoirs, storyteller and former peaceworker Simon Heywood brings the voices of the conscientious objectors out of the silence, with original songs composed and sung by Shonaleigh, drut’syla “storyteller” from Yiddish oral tradition.

The performance will be followed by a discussion with Richard J Hand, Professor of Theatre and Media Drama at the University of South Wales. He is the co-editor of the Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  Richard is a member of the Steering Group of the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling.


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