These playscripts and productions, written and co-directed by Newall, addressed:
- how to foreground local histories in national commemoration;
- delivery of dramatic information via non-theatrical settings, and/or by disrupting traditional performance practises.
All involved site-specificity, and used local histories and new voluntary community research, to bring to audience attention hitherto overlooked local historical detail. Innovative production strategies reinvested overfamiliar locations and architecture with a renewed sense of their WW1 significances. The productions were: Over by Christmas (OBC); Preston Remembers (PR); Your Country Needs You! (YCNY); Honour (H); and For the Fallen (FtF). Three (OBC: PR; YCNY) were performed as processional street theatre. H was presented on the BBC plaza, Salford Quays. FtF was staged in and around its seated audience in a church converted into a community arts centre.
The writing and direction was informed by challenging site architectures and sightlines; delivery by non-professional community performer, and, for outdoor performances, transient, standing audiences, and potential poor weather. Productions were thus designed to ‘carry’ over distance, to be portable, and to operate as ‘visual radio plays’. Narrative devices included: speeches, WW1 songs, declaimed newspaper headlines, and visual devices banners, vintage costume and suitcases. In some cases, the costumed cast mingled with shoppers and commuters before and after performances. OBC was delivered across working railway platforms; FtF was performed in a church with pillars and poor acoustics; and H with a massed audience with professional performers, wearing head mics, on head-height platforms in their midst.
The productions were widely disseminated: OBC alone enjoyed audiences of over 20K. PR and YCNY performed repeatedly in town centres (Preston and Warrington respectively); FtF was performed over 2 nights to capacity audiences (120). H was delivered as an outdoor projected spectacle for one night to an estimated audience of 5K.