‘Dartmoor in World War One’ was an eighteen-month project investigating the effect the first world war had on Dartmoor and its communities, including the rich vein of myth and story that Dartmoor produced in response to the shadow of conflict. You can find out about each output of the project by clicking the headings below.
The project commenced in Spring 2013 with an intensive period of research conducted by MED Theatre’s Young Company. The research unearthed a wealth of information from Dartmoor’s past, from the internment of conscientious objectors in Dartmoor Prison, to the halting of the building of Castle Drogo. Inspired by their findings, the young company went on to devise, script and perform their own play, ‘Road to Nowhere’, performed first in Moretonhampstead Parish Hall, then as a site-specific performance at Castle Drogo in partnership with the National Trust.
March 2014 hailed the second stage of the project in the form of MED Theatre’s annual community play. ‘Chasing Kitty Jay: The Creation of a War-Time Myth’ was written by Artistic Director Mark Beeson and members of MED Theatre’s Young Company. It investigated the origins of Dartmoor’s Kitty Jay myth and its roots in World War One. The play toured village halls across Dartmoor, including the parishes of Manaton and Widecombe near to where the mythical Kitty Jay is buried.
Alongside the play the young people also created their own short film ‘Williamson and the Otters’ in response to how a traumatic experience in the trenches led author Henry Williamson to write his seminal book ‘Tarka the Otter’.
The project concluded in autumn 2014 with an exhibition at Greenhill Arts and Heritage in Moretonhampstead, following further research from MED Theatre’s Young Company in collaboration with Moretonhampstead History Society. The exhibition marked the National Centenary and included film footage from the different stages of the project and a new film ‘Until the Boys Come Home’ created in the summer.