Remembrance Sunday 8th November 2009, 3pm
Duke of Yorks Theatre, St. Martins Lane, London.
Remembrance Sunday 8th November 2009, 3pm
Eloquent Protest is a powerful piece of theatre fusing music, poetry and drama. An artist’s response to the price of war, which honours the fallen and counts the cost of their sacrifice.
A Soldier’s Declaration
By SIEGFRIED SASSOON
“I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.
I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defense and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation. I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.
I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.
On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practiced on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize.”
Siegfried L. Sassoon, July 1917
At this year’s event, ex SAS paratrooper Ben Griffin joined us and read Sassoon’s declaration. The subject of a global injunction, he is denied the right to speak of his own experiences as a serving soldier in Iraq, so instead he read these words, which he says could have been his own thoughts. Although it was an honour to have Ben with us to read this timely and moving piece, it is lamentable that, 92 years after they were written, our experiences and attitudes have seemingly changed little.
For generations artists, writers, poets and singers have raised their voices in eloquent protest against the terrible cost of war. Owen, Hardy, Pablo Casals, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Joan Baez, Adrian Mitchell and David Harsent to name but a few, along with a whole generation of new artists have added their voices to those of innocent civilians like Anne Frank and the children of Terezin who yearned for a peaceful world through their words and music.
Eloquent Protest has quickly become one of the most important and moving events in Londons theatrical calendar. From small beginnings in 2006 this unique event has grown each year and in 2008, due to popular demand, the event moved into the main stage in Studio 1 to sell-out audiences, sponsored by ATG, Autograph Sound and The Stage Door Foundation. In 2008, co-producer Hazel Roy also took a studio show of Eloquent Protest to the International Kathmandu Theatre Festival to great acclaim.
Former MP and veteran peace campaigner Tony Benn again hosted the 2009 event, together with acclaimed actress and singer Janie Dee. The artists and production team gave their time freely for the event and all profits go to the Mark Wright Project. (YouTube clip)
An ever-growing cast of outstanding and award winning artists have been involved in Eloquent Protest: Rupert Wickham, John Guerrasio, Sam Ellis, Dan Willis, Loveday & Julian Littman, Sally Burgess, Neal Thornton, Rosemary Ashe, Charlie Dore, Peter Straker, Johnnie Fiori, Fiona MacDonald, Lemn Sissay, David Harsent, Charlotte Forrest, Roy Bailey, Philip Desmeules, Two’s Company, Marlene Sidaway, Annette Reis-Dunne, Ben Mellor, Stella Duffy, Julia Watson, Warren Wills, Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus, Jeff Borradale, Matilda Wickham, Oliver Hawes, Christopher Sheridan, Will Strange, Leslie Forbes, Nasrin Parvaz, Noreen Kershaw, Hazel Roy, Caroline Clegg, Julie Nicholson and The Most Effective Drum.
This year, we were delighted to be joined again by many of our previous contributors as well as some new (but recognisable) faces, including acclaimed actors Robert Powell, Samuel West, Jason Isaacs , who read late rifleman Cyrus Thatcher’s letters home from Afghanistan and Clive Rowe, Actress Jane Milligan (daughter of Spike Milligan), West End star Maggie Preece, ex soldier and writer Adnan Sarwar, Ben Griffin and Palestinian singer, musician and broadcaster, Reem Kelani.
“...as a veteran this is one of the most moving events I have been to and hope it grows each year so that in 2010 it can be seen at the Albert Hall...” - Audience Member
For reviews of previous Eloquent Protest events, click here
2009 Participants, in alphabetical order:
Roy Bailey, Tony Benn, Caroline Clegg, Robin Colyer, Janie Dee, Neil Ditt, Sam Ellis, Johnnie Fiori, Charlotte Forrest, Ben Goddard, Ben Griffin, Matthew Hardy, Jeffrey Harmer, David Harsent, Jim Holmes, Jason Isaacs, Mia Jaye, Reem Kelani, Jill Kemp, Julian Littman, Fiona MacDonald, Jane Milligan, Ellie Moran, Mende Nazer, Wendy Parkin, Ellie Paskell, Robert Powell, Maggie Preece, Clive Rowe, Hazel Roy, Adnan Sarwar, Shirley & Shirley (Joanna Carolan & Pascale Wilson), Peter Straker, Samuel West, Rupert Wickham, Matilda Wickham and Dan Willis.