MALLORY CATLETT

DIRECTOR/dramaturg

OH WHAT WAR

It started with this:

The finest legend of the war–the most brilliant in literary invention and richest in symbolic suggestion– is the rumor that somewhere between the lines a battalion-sized group of half crazed deserters, from all the armies, friend and enemy alike, harboured underground in abandoned trenches and dugouts and lived in amity. To survive they would emerge at night to pillage the corpses of no man’s land. This horde of wild men lived underground for years, finally growing so rapacious that it was suggested they would have to be gassed when the war was over. This legend gathers and unifies that maximum number of meaningful emotional motifs. It offers a virtual mirror image, of the real, orderly trench life, in which, for example the night was a time for “work”. It projects the soldiers overwhelming feeling of shame for abandoning the wounded to suffer alone between the lines. It embodies in objectified dramatic images the universal fantasy of flagrant disobedience to authority. It conveys the point that German and British were not the enemies: the enemy of both was the War itself. And finally, it enacts in unforgettable terms the inescapable feeling of the trenches–that “normal” life there was equal to outright madness. — Paul Fussel

Textual Notes:

Interwoven into the noisescape are excerpts from a few important primary sources: Paul Fussel’s The Great War and Modern Memory (above), H. Sanders’ poem Dreaming of Mud from the WW1 Art Magazine “BLAST” & Patrik Ourednik’s Eurpopeana.

Musical Notes:

The origin of the majority of the music comes from WW1 songs that were included in Joan Littlewood’s OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR, specifically “Gassed Last Night”, “Chanson de Croanne”, “Good Byee”, “The Bells of Hell” and “Oh It’s A Lovely War”. Exceptions include:  “Revolluzerlied”, recreated from lyrics sung by Dadaist Emmy Hennings in 1916 in the Caberet Voltaire; “My Mom”, a song from late ‘20’s early 30’s; and “Fillus” an original song with lyrics by Jason Craig. All songs have been newly arranged or composed by Lisa Dove.

Video Notes:

The video is scavenged from cinematic and documentary footage of WW1 and features the banned images from German Anarchist Earnst Friedrich’s War Againts War! Special thanks to actor Grzegorz Labriga, additional videographer Robert Mleczko & Samauel Topiary, consultant Hal Eager, Aron Deyo, Mirit Tal, Evan Kennedy and everyone at the Digital Performance Institute, for their generous support.

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