The Christmas Truce was an extraordinary event that took place in 1914, the first year of the war, and was
never repeated. Thousands of men put down their guns and left their trenches to meet their enemies in No
Man’s Land. They exchanged gifts of tobacco, rum, and chocolates; even photographs of loved ones. They sang
songs, played a game of soccer, and buried each other’s dead. Upon orders from above, they eventually
returned to their trenches and re-instigated a war that would last four more years.
All is Calm is a musical production with an entirely male cast who tell the story of the 1914 Christmas Truce through the words from letters and poems of the soldiers and through the a cappella harmonies of the Christmas songs they sung. This is the second production from Promise Adelaide focusing on WW1 and particular elements of its rich history. Earlier this year they produced the Australian premiere of Simon
Reade’s Private Peaceful adapted from the Michael Morpurgo book, that explores the execution of soldiers for cowardice in WW1 through the story of fictional character Thomas ‘Tommo’ Peaceful. Promise Adelaide was nominated for a Curtain Call Award for Best Drama for the production and a nomination for Best Male Actor also went to performer Ben Francis.
All is Calm is a very different theatrical experience in many ways: the music is foremost and items range from
trench songs to patriotic and sentimental tunes, as well as Christmas music from the participating countries.
The text is taken from a wide range of sources including letters, journals, official war documents, poetry, grave
stone inscriptions and even an old radio broadcast. The historical accuracy of the text brings greater realism
and emotional connection, without detracting from the entertainment value of the work; rather, it engages
audiences imaginations to complete the story and put a human face on war.
The production is directed by Paul Reichstein, a teacher of English and Drama, who explains why he is
delighted to be involved: “What draws me to All is Calm is the fact that such a humane and beautifully shared
moment could rise up out of one of the coldest and most unforgiving environments in human history. I’m constantly moved by the individual confessions and recollections of these soldiers. In the midst of war, there was love…even for just a heart-beat of time.”
With a challenging a cappella score, Promise Adelaide have brought in Trevor Anderson to musically direct, utilising his expertise as a coach and performer in the a cappella community. Trevor also loved the piece from the outset: “All Is Calm holds the music at the very core of the storytelling and the a cappella arrangements allow space, silence, simplicity and the rawness of the human voice to make a striking impact on the audience.”
The heroes of this historical event are the lowest of the ranks: the young, the hungry, the cold, and the
optimistic; those who acted with great courage to put down their guns, overcoming their fear of the
movement which put the guns in their hands to start with. This ensemble production has been cast with this in
mind (Aaron Thomas, Aden Quinn, Ben Francis, Cam McKinnon, Daniel Maley, Deon Martino-Williams, Jack Raft, Jack Conroy, Jono Webb, Lachlan Blanch, Lachlan Williams,, Nicholas Munday and Will Richards), ensuring a good proportion of the actors are teenage boys, and very young men, representative of the masses of boy soldiers who made up the ranks of the Allied Forces in this conflict. Paul goes on to explain “the
important challenge, (for both myself as director and the young men, as actors) is to honour that moment that was experienced and felt by very real people”.
Where: THE GOODWOOD INSTITUTE
166 Goodwood Rd, Goodwood SA 5034
When: Thursday 21st December @ 8pm
Friday 22nd December @ 8pm
Saturday 23rd December @ 3pm & 8pm