A new UK tour of the critically acclaimed hit play The Wipers Times opens at the Theatre Royal Nottingham on August 28, before it visits Oxford, Exeter, Malvern, Leicester, Eastbourne and Birmingham, returning to the Arts Theatre in London for a seven-week season.
Ian Hislop and Nick Newman’s The Wipers Times - a stage adaptation of their award-winning BBC film - tells the true and extraordinary story of the satirical newspaper created in the mud and mayhem of the Somme, interspersed with comic sketches and spoofs from the vivid imagination of those on the front line.
In early 1916, the 12th Battalion, known as the Sherwood Foresters, was stationed in the front line at Ypres, Belgium, and came across an abandoned printing press.
Led by Captain Fred Roberts, a group of soldiers from B Company Notts and Derbyshire Regiment set to work creating a satirical newspaper to boost morale for the men fighting on the battlegrounds of Belgium. Far from being a sombre journal about life in the trenches they produced a resolutely cheerful, subversive and very funny newspaper designed to lift the spirits of the men on the front line.
Defying enemy bombardment, gas attacks and the disapproval of many of the top Brass, The Wipers Times rolled off the press for two years and was an extraordinary tribute to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Ian Hislop and Nick Newman said: “The Wipers Times is on manoeuvres again around Britain. We look forward to sharing the remarkable trench humour of the Wipers Times with new theatre-goers around the country. We are delighted it is not Journey’s End but the tour will all be over by Christmas.”
David Longford, creative learning manager at the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, said: “We have already made strong links with the Museum of the Mercian Regiment, who will be providing a foyer exhibition and talks about the Sherwood Foresters, but in order to really celebrate our region’s unique association with this play, we would love to hear from anyone who may have stories, snippets, cuttings or anecdotes about The Wipers Times or the soldiers from the B Company Notts and Derbyshire who were behind it.
“It would be great to be able to share these stories and to celebrate what was clearly a very resourceful group of men! Anyone who would like to get in touch can contact myself or my colleague Kayleigh Chalcroft via email firstname.lastname@example.org or 0115 989 5500.”
The production originally launched 100 after the Battle of the Somme and publication of The Wipers Times. This current run coincides with the commemoration of the end of World War One.
For ticket details, see www.trch.co.uk
Photo credit: Kirsten McTernan