This Spring, during the centenary of the First World War, composer Verity Standen creates a new immersive, choral experience at three sites of historic significance in the stories of conscientious objection.
St Helens will host one of these events as the home town of school teacher Ernest Everett, who was arrested for refusing to undertake combative service in 1916.
He was court-martialled and sentenced to two years of hard labour, the first conscientious objector to receive such a sentence.
Over the next few years, he was sentenced seven more times. In Refrain, Everett’s story, symbolic of many more cases of this kind, is given a voice once again.
REFRAIN will be a roaming performance which will move across various historical sites in the George Street Quarter of the town centre, including the oldest building in St Helens; the Friends Meeting House.
Local males from all walks of life who have volunteered to sing in this work are meeting regularly to explore their voices and the issues surrounding conscientious objection.
There will be indoor and outdoor sections to explore throughout allowing the audience to walk through the singers discovering different sounds and voices as they do. All ages are welcome.
Artist Verity Standen, said: “I am thrilled to be working with such a diverse range of the voice – men drawn from all walks of life. I try to leave room for the performers take the music their own direction within the compositions I’m writing. I expect the piece to sound and feel totally different in each location, as it will be shaped by the local singers, the architecture and history of each site, and each audience who will explore it in a different way.”
Claire Doherty, Director of arts producers Situations said: “REFRAIN represents Situations commitment to growing art out of place and to offering the chance to hear untold stories. REFRAIN offers the opportunity to experience these sites as never before, against the background of the extraordinary struggles over conscience.”
Patrick Fox, Director of Heart of Glass said: “We are delighted to be working with partners to develop this ambitious project. Verity Standen is an extraordinary artist who creates exquisite work with her collaborators.
“The histories of conscientious objection in England require a sensitive and respectful approach. Heritage stories such as Ernest Everett, a teacher in St Helens and a World War One Conscientious Objector, are often left unheard and misunderstood, viewed as irrelevant and in isolation instead of part of a national, contemporary story.
“This story and others form the backdrop of this new immersive choral experience and we are delighted to work with our community partners and audiences to create a special experience in St Helens this May. This is art as it should be, in direct conversation with the social and political.”
Saturday, May 20th, 6.00pm
Sunday, May 21st 1.00pm
Tickets on sale and more information at www.refrain.online
The meeting point for this performance will be confirmed via e-mail. All indoor venues explored will have step free access. Performances will take place come rain or shine so please ensure you are prepared for being outdoors in all weathers.
About the artist
‘Sound rose and fell in waves until it felt as if I was drenched in music that had seeped its way into every organ in my body, and maybe even found my soul.’
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian on Verity Standen’s HUG, 2015
Verity Standen is an award-winning artist, composer and choir leader, whose unique work with voices has surprised and enchanted audiences around the UK and internationally. From intimate concerts to immersive theatrical experiences, Verity’s work seeks to reimagine how audiences experience vocal music. Verity’s immersive choral piece HUG won the Off West End TBC Award 2016 and was nominated for The Arches Brick Award and a Total Theatre Award. As well as touring her pieces HUG, MMM HMMM and SYMPHONY across the UK and internationally, Verity is currently composing for a contemporary dance opera, which will premiere in 2017. She is also researching a sound design project for in-patients at London hospitals and recording a soundtrack for an independent documentary. REFRAIN is her most ambitious project to date. www.veritystanden.com