Freelance Theatre Director Charlotte Peters has been working on an ambitious online broadcast over lockdown which will be released on 1 July .
‘We’ve rewritten, redesigned and redirected Birdsong! It’s been a mad venture and has become a hybrid of film, Zoom-reading and live performance theatre with sound design and music. It’s being narrated by author Sebastian Faulks himself and the cast will be in full costume, with digitally designed scenes and lighting. We’re releasing it on 1 July and are charging for tickets by necessity – the theatre world is under great threat for survival and the more people who book online for projects such as these, the better. A proportion of the Birdsong money is also being donated to The Royal British Legion.”
Charlotte was brought up in Little Chalfont, went to RMS School and attended Carol Kristian Theatre School (CKTS),
“My first professional acting role was through CKTS at the RSC when I was 6 and 24 years later I cast CKTS children for An Inspector Calls in the West End so it was lovely to complete the cycle!”
Although the technology used in this venture is new to Charlotte, she is revisiting the production for the fifth time,
“After University, my first big job was assistant-directing a national tour of Birdsong. Over the years, it’s been great to move up through the ranks to associate, then director for the 2018 tour. The production process this time round is very different and involves a lot of technology which is all new to us. We’ve had to learn new skills in film direction and have especially enjoyed saying ‘Action!’ and ‘Cut!’ There’s a brilliant behind-the-scenes daily diary written by my Co-Director, Alastair Whatley on the website.”
Birdsong tells a story of love and courage, before and during the war. In pre-war France, a young Englishman, Stephen Wraysford, embarks on a passionate and dangerous affair with the beautiful Isabelle Azaire that turns their worlds upside down. As the war breaks out, Stephen must lead his men through the carnage of the Battle of the Somme and through the sprawling tunnels that lie deep underground beneath the battle fields. Faced with the unprecedented horror of the war, Stephen clings to the memory of Isabelle and the idyll of his former life as his world explodes around him.
“Birdsong explores the endurability of the human spirit and above all the power of love.” adds Alastair, “Sebastian’s novel highlights how, even in times of unimaginable horrors and hardships, there is more that binds us together than breaks us apart; that we are all part of something bigger. Never has this incredible story had more to offer and we wanted to find a way to share it at what is a very difficult time for so many people. The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916, and, 104 years later to the day, we hope people will join with us and come together to remember, reflect and experience something we hope will be a little bit special.”
Sebastian Faulks says of the virtual production, “This is a great initiative from The Original Theatre Company and technically very ambitious. The adaptation of novel to play continues to evolve and I’m confident it has reached its best incarnation yet. Some of the best actors in its long life have signed up. Should be enormous fun.”
Birdsong, an Original Theatre Production, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff from the Sebastian Faulks novel, Wednesday 1 July and available for 72hrs, £12.50 / £15
Details of cast, more information and tickets at https://www.birdsongonline.co.uk/