Oh! What a Lovely War

Venue Great Hall

Running time 90

Artists: Students from the Advanced Music Theatre Course, Richard Williams, Sarah Gabriel directors, Sara van Beers choreography, Dartington Music Theatre Ensemble


Tickets £10 | Students and U16 £5

Full details on visiting Dartington

Next date 16th August 7:15 pm

About this event

Joan Littlewood’s searing musical satire on the First World War is our tribute to the centenary of the war’s end in 1918.

The original production, at Theatre Stratford East in 1963, starred Barbara Windsor, Murray Melvin, Ann Beach and Victor Spinetti; it changed the course of British theatre, and our view of the Great War, forever.

“Joan Littlewood’s pioneering 1963 musical about the First World War not only changed attitudes towards the conflict, it remade British theatre” – Michael Billington

This theatrical masterpiece examines politics from the ordinary soldier’s point of view, weaving contemporary speeches and songs together. Joan Littlewood embedded songs throughout from the 1917 collection Tommy’s Tunes, which had new lyrics written in the trenches to well-known songs of the era, many from hymns or from West End shows. Performed by gifted young students in 2018, for Dartington’s 70th anniversary, our production will be moving, humorous and compelling.

Read Michael Billington’s full article on the impact of Joan Littlewood and Oh! What a Lovely War here.

Made For Dartington

More music and words:

Los Nacimientos with Tom Randle and Gillian Keith on 4 August
Celebrating Dorothy Elmhirst on 13 August
Sarah Gabriel sings Songs from Berlin Cabaret on 20 August

Richard Williams is a theatre and opera director. In a directing career spanning 30 years he has directed over 200 professional productions. He has directed many revivals of Shakespeare and the classical repertoire, as well as championing new work and directing a large number of commissioned new plays often with music. Following a period as an assistant director at The Royal National Theatre with David Hare, he went on to become Artistic Director of four varied and successful theatre companies: Contact Theatre Manchester; The Oxford Playhouse Company (where he produced The Seagull with John Hurt and Vanessa Redgrave and directed Hamlet with David Threlfall, playing at Elsinore Castle before embarking on a world tour); The Unicorn-Arts in London; and The Liverpool Playhouse. The quality of his work has been recognized in the awards his productions have attracted. He has directed in London’s West End, and he also directed key components of the Deloitte Festival at the Royal Opera House in 2010. He is a highly regarded teacher and has worked at RADA, Drama Centre London, East 15, Rose Bruford, LIPA. He also holds the post of Course Director at Drama Centre London.

The brilliant soprano Sarah Gabriel sings music spanning four centuries, from early Handel works to brand-new commissions. Sarah performs on the opera stage around the world, in recital and in oratorios, in contemporary music, and in music theatre. She made her triumphant European debut as Eliza Doolittle in Robert Carsen’s much-loved production of My Fair Lady at Théâtre du Châtelet, opposite Alex Jennings as Higgins.

Listen to Sarah

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Thursday 16th August

Friday 17th August

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Open daily 12.30 – 7pm
Phone: 01803 847070

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About us

The Dartington Experiment began over 90 years ago when our founders, Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst, set out to build a community inspired by the idea of a ‘many-sided life’.

Today, we believe that their vision is more relevant today than ever before. We aim to be a place where people can realise their individual and collective potential, and are given a chance to connect with themselves, each other, and the environment.

Across the estate, a programme of events and visitor attractions operate year-round; artists, makers, farmers, educators, craftspeople and entrepreneurs live and work; and the community continues to ‘learn by doing’, finding inspiration in the Elmhirst’s progressive ideas and experimental approach.

Find out more