Journey's End by R.C. Sherriff
In the dying months of a long and bitter trench war, far from home, a company of British soldiers wait for a final attack. A naive young officer arrives at the front and falls under the command of an old school hero who he finds devastated by months in the front line, and traumatised beyond recognition. R.C. Sherriff’s honest and unflinching vision of life in the trenches of northern France premiered ninety years ago, ten years after the end of the First World War.
The play was inspired by Sherriff’s own experiences serving as an officer in the East Surrey Regiment at Vimy Ridge, Loos and Passchendale, where he was severely wounded. He is best remembered for Journey’s End but wrote many plays, novels and screenplays, and received an Academy Award nomination for Goodbye, Mr. Chips and BAFTA nominations for The Dam Busters and The Night My Number Came Up.
Robert Cedric Sherriff was born in 1896 in Middlesex. He served as an officer in the 9th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment during the First World War. He was wounded at Passchendaele in 1917. He wrote many plays with Journey’s End being the best known. He was also a successful novelist and screenwriter receiving an Academy Award nomination for Goodbye, Mr. Chips and BAFTA nominations for The Dam Busters and The Night My Number Came Up.
Prasanna Puwanarajah is a writer, actor and director. His debut play Nightwatchman premiered at the National Theatre in 2011, where he has also worked extensively as an actor and is currently appearing in Absolute Hell. He directed Moth at the HighTide Festival and Bush Theatre, where it was a 2013 Time Out Critics’ Choice.
For television he has directed the acclaimed Spoof or Die for Channel 4, which received special screenings at the Belfast Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival and the London Short Film Festival. His other short films include BOY, written in response to the London 2012 Olympic Games and The Half-Light. He is an Associate of Wilton’s Music Hall, a Trustee of the National Youth Theatre, the Criterion Theatre and Headlong, and a Patron of The Theatrical Guild. Last year he directed A Bitter Herb at RADA. He trained in medicine and worked as a doctor in the NHS.
Prasanna Puwanarajah on Journey's End and the shadow of war
"Being in a war is one of my greatest fears. I can’t imagine or really even begin to imagine the scale of the assault on lives lived in its horrendous shadow. We look into that shadow from a managed distance consisting of objective media desensitisation and a certain subjective knowledge that vivid closeness might be too hot to bear. Journey’s End is a play that gets as close to that shadow as any."
Read the full blog for more about Prasanna's take on Journey's End, the long shadow of war and what the play might say to us in 2018.
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