Two Derbyshire playwrights will be seeing their new theatrical works performed on stage in the county this month.
In Wirksworth the Community Theatre will present the ambitious new production Gorsey Bank to Gommecourt by Graham Sellors, which is the story of two young quarry workers who join up at the start of the First World War.
A few miles away in Belper a talented cast directed by Larry Waller will be taking on the challenge of Mind Games by George Gunby, which is set in the prison cell of John Lennon’s murderer Mark Chapman.
The Wirksworth project was born when former mayor Andy Pollock called together a team wanting to commemorate the part played in the Great War by local people. They ended up asking Graham, an award-winning playwright and former television producer to create the new work.
Despite the tragedy of the war the play manages to be an ultimately uplifting one which demonstrates the bravery, resilience, humour and love shown by those involved at the Front and left back home.
Although the two young men in the play are fictional characters, real events and locations are drawn on to help give it a highly distinctive and realistic feel.
While he was researching the play Graham read the full set of Urban District Council minutes and many parish magazines.
The directors are husband and wife team Mike and Helen Knott and they have been able to draw on a wealth of artistic talent in the town. Young actors from Anthony Gell School will take leading roles alongside older townspeople.
Singer songwriters have composed new music which they will play alongside other musicians including a five-piece brass band. There will also be dancing and filmed interviews with people recalling memories of the war handed down to them by their families.
The foundation stone for many of the stories though is the town’s war memorial and the 80 names engraved on it.
George Gunby says he had wanted to get Mind Games out of his system for many years. He can remember the moment he heard John Lennon had been murdered and one question has fascinated him since. Why did Chapman kill Lennon?
“The result is Mind Games. The text is based on interviews with Chapman as well as the eight parole hearings he has undergone every two years since 2000. It was important to me to be as accurate as possible as I want people to be able to make a considered decision about him,” explained George.
The play also tackles two other questions: would Chapman be killed if he was allowed out and does he want to leave prison?
“I don’t claim the play gives the answers but it does give an insight into the complicated mind of a killer and his motives.”
The play revolves around Chapman receiving a visitor in his prison cell and that visitor being John Lennon.
Larry Waller’s cast is an experienced one, largely from Belper Players and he says that he believes they have developed the script to create a play which will not only captivate and excite the audience but also educate and challenge them.
Mind Games is at the Strutt Community Centre, Belper from October 23-25 at 7.30pm. Go to http://www.belperartsfestival.org or call 07845 400914 for tickets.
Gorsey Bank to Gommecourt is at Wirksworth Town Hall from October 2-4 at 7.30pm and tickets are available at Traid Links in Wirksworth Market Place or by telephoning 01629 824393.