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WORLD PREMIÈRE: EDINBURGH FESTIVAL, AUGUST 2014

The Show
A rich compendium of WW1 poetry and short stories from both sides of the trenches by writers such as Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front), and many others compiled & performed by Guy Masterson in commemoration of the centenary of the Great War.

Availability
Domestic & International touring through 2018

Terms
Straight Guarantee in venues less than 199 seats
Guarantee vs Box Split in venues over 200 seats
Travel + Accommodation for 1
Venue to provide technical assistance.

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Theatre Tours International presents

ANTHEM FOR A DOOMED YOUTH

Compiled & Performed by Guy Masterson

Poems and Stories from the Trenches of WW1
A powerful compendium of the finest stories and poems of the trenches of the Great War from both sides of no-mans land. From our greatest war poets Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon and excerpts from Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front and the now mythical Christmas Truce, globally renowned, multi-award winning solo-performer, Guy Masterson (Under Milk Wood, Animal Farm) brings the WW1 trenches to life in a powerfully moving tour de force.
"Passion & heart" (British Theatre Guide)
"Timeless and harrowing" (The Big Issue)
"Explosive & moving" (Edinburgh Guide)
"Cements Masterson's reputation as a master of his art." (Broadway Baby)



THE BIG ISSUE 21/08/14 - TIMELESS & HARROWING
Guy Masterson gives voice to the 'timeless and harrowing' words of the War Poets
In his 21st season at the Edinburgh Festival as, variously, director, producer and performer, Guy Masterson has taken a half-step back from the entirely theatrical here, to present an informal but appropriately-staged spoken word tribute to those who died in the First World War through the medium of some of the era's great war poetry.
It's a simple but effective proposition, enhanced no end by the smartness and gravitas of Masterson's performance, where his ability as an actor adds more weight to even these timeless and often harrowing works.
He explains early on that his intention isn't to dance around the build-up and fallout of the war, but to dig deep amidst the viscera of the trenches and to reflect the experiences of the men who fought and died there.
He introduces each new poet as their words enter the fray, and their personae are audibly different. Wilfred Owen, author of the titular piece, is clear-eyed and descriptive, as is Siegfried Sassoon, although his evocation of both the action and the carnage it wreaks is more frayed with nerves in Masterson's reading.
There's a more wordy literary quality to Isaac Rosenberg's In the Trenches, a particular favourite of our host's, while Irish politician Thomas Kettle's To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God , a gift for her to take into life and adulthood after his inevitable death, is heart-breaking.
There's also an excerpt from Erich Maria Marquez' All Quiet On the Western Front, while the only slight misfire is Masterson's own The Christmas Truce, invented from accounts of the day - not because it isn't arresting, but because it appears to be an intended short play for two performers. (David Pollock - The Big Issue - 21/08/14)

EAST COAST FM - MOVING AND POWERFUL
In this centenary year of World War One, I felt it would be appropriate to include one of the many shows in this year’s Fringe and Festival which cover this subject. I chose this one as I was attracted by the fact that it was to be performed by Guy Masterson, a stalwart supporter of the Fringe who has directed and performed in many successful productions over the last twenty one years.
The proposition is a simple one - Masterson is alone on an empty stage with a large folder full of poems, stories and letters written by the men who fought in and experienced the horrors of war and many of whom lost their lives there.
However this is not simply a reading of these works - Masterson is an accomplished actor and from the outset, he brings the words and scenes alive to us in a most moving and powerful way. With effective lighting and a background soundtrack of machine gun fire, we are conveyed to the trenches and we can almost see the battlefield and feel the fear and helplessness.
There are poems from well-known British war poets Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brook, Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, writings from the German side such as Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front and lesser known works such as the heartbreaking poem by Irishman Thomas Kettle 'To My Daughter Betty, Gift of God'. Knowing he will not come back from the war and knowing he will be vilified by some for fighting for the British, he writes a farewell to her and to tell her why he and others like him died: "they died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor, but for a dream born in a herdsman's shed and for the secret Scripture of the poor".
It is not all relentless doom and gloom - there are a couple of lighter hearted pieces on the banter between the two sides at the Christmas truce and on the ingenious methods employed by the men against the problem of body lice.
Always, though, there is the constant and underlying presence of danger, death and dying. This is a poignant reminder of what others suffered and endured for us and the warning against glorification of war that is Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum Est' is a fitting way to finish. (Irene Brownlee - East Coast FM - 18/08/14)

BROADWAY BABY 14/08/14 - CEMENTS MASTERSON'S REPUTATION AS A MASTER
By turns harrowing, tender and witty, Guy Masterson's one-man commemoration of the soldiers of the First World War is a poetry reading of first-class calibre. With over a hundred shows during the course of twenty-one years at the Fringe, Guy Masterson has had plenty of time to cut his teeth as a performer, director and producer. This experience shows: he knows how to make an audience feel at home with off-the-cuff stage patter, providing light relief from some of the heavier material.
Taking its title from Wilfred Owen's poem of the same name (Owen's work features predominantly in the show), Masterson works his way through the poetry of not only the household names of English poets such as Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Rupert Brooke but also that of Irish, French and German writers, each of which is introduced with a short biography. His renditions of classic pieces such as Brooke's The Soldier and Owen's Anthem For Doomed Youth and Dulce et Decorum Est are all delivered with a range of inflection and sense of pace that would make even the most accomplished poet jealous. Moreover, his presentation of poets to whom posterity has not been kind, such as the Irishman Tom Kettle, is an inspired directorial decision.
Despite his opening claim of not wanting to 'appropriate' the testaments of these men, Masterson is not afraid of upping the ante in some of the more dramatic pieces. At times, I felt that this detracted somewhat from the sentiment behind the poems, which are after all personal documents and not scores for dramatic exposition. This, coupled with the fact that during these pieces his delivery tended to be all one plane (one of panic and terror), made these the least effective weapons in Masterson's poetic arsenal.
By far the strongest point of the show is Masterson's own fictional account of the Christmas Truce of 1914. Spurred on by the fact that there has been surprisingly little written about it, Masterson has woven his own comic dialogue between Fritz and Tommy on Christmas Eve, 1914. Like his patter between readings and then some, this vignette strikes exactly the right balance between pathos and comedy. Simply put, this show cements Masterson's reputation as a master of his art. (Rik Baker - Broadway World - 14/08/14)

FRINGE REVIEW 18/08/14 - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED SHOW
Anthem for a Doomed Youth is Guy Masterson's new work in commemoration of the Centenary of the Great War. The show is a compilation of some of the finest poetry and literature from WW1 condensed into an hour of theatre, featuring the works of well known British poets Owen, Sassoon and Brooke, but also hitherto little known French and German authors including an excerpt from Remarque's All Quiet On The Western Front.
Guy Masterson has been a Fringe regular for over twenty years. He introduces Anthem for a Doomed Youth as a tribute to those who fought in the First World War. As in most of his shows there is no elaborate set; however for this show he has also stepped back from character acting and appears as himself, simply carrying a folder containing the poems. He is at pains to point out that he has a script because he wants us to remember that these are the words of others and that he does not intend to appropriate them. Having said that he clearly knows the text he is working with very thoroughly; the show is not simply a rehearsed reading.
Although there is no set he does make good use of lighting and of sound - mostly that of the haunting thump of heavy artillery and shells falling, but also the gentle music of an andante referred to in one of the poems.
The choice of what to include must have been a challenging task with so much fine work to choose from. The result is a number of pieces from well known British poets: Owen, Sassoon and Brooke, but also hitherto little known German authors including an excerpt from Marque's All Quiet On The Western Front and a French poet Paul Granier. Granier's work (trans Higgins) provides a striking contrast to the lyrical expressions of many of the British poets that we are familiar with - his work comprising short, hard hitting lines and vivid images: 'Juddering iron buckets clanging, jerking deadweight chains clanking' and Masterson delivers the lines with a punch that hits you in the guts. However, it isn't all guns and gore; there are lighter moments - of the camaradie, the writing home to families, the imaginative ways of dealing with lice...
His presentation approach spans traditional reading and very expressive dramatic portrayals. His powerful delivery together with the variety in pace ensures that the mid-afternoon audience are never tempted to let their concentration slip. He is particularly skilled at addressing the audience with great warmth, almost as a group of friends with whom he is sharing both the poems and something of the background and biography of the poet (very few of whom survived the war).
He has also included one example of a letter home and an imagined scene in no man's land on Christmas Eve 1914. Both added to the story but, as single examples of each genre, sat a little awkwardly - hopefully he will consider adding a little more of that kind of material in the future for balance.
At sixty minutes this show felt just right for a fringe event; however, I also felt there is scope to develop it and add more (or possibly reintroduce some of those pieces that I suspect were hard to leave out in the first place) to create a full length show.
Overall, it is a powerful and moving piece; an hour where you feel you have stepped out of this frantic modern world into another, completely different one. A place where everyone's life was dominated by the war. It took me a little while to adjust to the noise and bustle of the festival and Edinburgh streets as I left; a measure of the impact it had.
(Kate Saffin - FringeReview.com - 14/08/14)

BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE 13/08/14 - PASSION & HEART
Guy Masterson is known for his one-man shows and his amazing memory. For this production, however, he chooses to keep the book in his hand as he does not wish it to appear as if he owns the material.
This sensitive introduction to the show firmly places it as a tribute and allows Masterson to show part of his own personality for a change. His own warmth and his clear respect for these men shines through in this and all his introductions to the various pieces.
It is not, however, just a collection of poems read aloud. Masterson acts the pieces, aided by sound effects and dimmed lights, creating an atmosphere that is sombre but subtle enough to let the imagery in the poems remain the key.
Masterson creates many different characters and, even with such serious subject matter, manages to pepper the gloom with a few laughs from his German and English Christmas day conversation in the trenches.
At times quiet and reflective, at others loud and desperate Masterson uses all of his experience to create light and shade in what could have been a depressing show.
This, instead, is a moving collection of poems written by soldiers on all sides of the conflict. Some are recognisable, others less so, but Guy delivers them all with equal passion and heart. (Amy Yorston - British Theatre Guide - 13/08/14)

THE BIG ISSUE 07/08/14 - TIMELESS & HARROWING
Guy Masterson gives voice to the 'timeless and harrowing' words of the War Poets
In his 21st season at the Edinburgh Festival as, variously, director, producer and performer, Guy Masterson has taken a half-step back from the entirely theatrical here, to present an informal but appropriately-staged spoken word tribute to those who died in the First World War through the medium of some of the era's great war poetry.
It's a simple but effective proposition, enhanced no end by the smartness and gravitas of Masterson's performance, where his ability as an actor adds more weight to even these timeless and often harrowing works.
He explains early on that his intention isn't to dance around the build-up and fallout of the war, but to dig deep amidst the viscera of the trenches and to reflect the experiences of the men who fought and died there.
He introduces each new poet as their words enter the fray, and their personae are audibly different. Wilfred Owen, author of the titular piece, is clear-eyed and descriptive, as is Siegfried Sassoon, although his evocation of both the action and the carnage it wreaks is more frayed with nerves in Masterson's reading.
There's a more wordy literary quality to Isaac Rosenberg's In the Trenches, a particular favourite of our hosts, while Irish politician Thomas Kettle's To My Daughter Betty, The Gift of God, a gift for her to take into life and adulthood after his inevitable death, is heart-breaking. (David Pollock - The Big Issue - 07/08/14)

EDINBURGH GUIDE 07/08/14 - EXPLOSIVE
Guy Masterson has been producing hit Fringe shows for over two decades. This year, however, he is on stage immersing the audience in the horrors young men had to endure in the hell of the trenches of the First World War.
The show starts explosively, literally, as with sound effects he acts out a harrowing extract from a short story encapsulating the terror men in the tranches felt as they were subjected to the relentless shelling in their squalid lice infected pits. With poems and short stories from British and German soldiers we experience vocally the annihilation of young men whose lives were brutally truncated in pursuit of patriotism.
Masterson engages wholeheartedly in the words of these soldiers who put pen to paper to recount the horrors they witnessed. The title of the show - Anthem for a Doomed Youth - was written by Wilfred Owen when he recovering from shell shock at Craiglockart War Hospital here in Edinburgh in l917. He returned to the front and was killed in action a week before Armistice was announced.
If you want to be reminded of the courage these young men displayed in the most appalling conditions then I highly recommend this moving show. (Barbara Ryan - Edinburgh Guide - 07/08/14)


Download: Guy Masterson Headshot (image: Brigitta Scholz-Mastroianni 2014)

GUY MASTERSON - Adaptor & Performer (click for additional biographical material)
After obtaining a Joint Honours degree in Biochemistry and Chemistry from Cardiff University in 1982, Guy studied drama at UCLA's School of Drama and started as an actor in 1985 in Hollywood. He returned to the UK in 1989 to study further at LAMDA.
Following a conventional start in plays, film and television, Guy began solo performing in 1991 with The Boy's Own Story and thence Under Milk Wood in 1994 and Animal Farm in 1995. He first produced/directed in 1993 with Playing Burton and participated at the Edinburgh Festival for the first time in 1994. The following 23 seasons saw his association with some of Edinburgh's most celebrated hits, and his company became the Fringe's most awarded independent theatre producer - garnering 8 Scotsman Fringe Firsts, 3 Herald Angels, 25 Stage Award nominations (including 4 wins) together with numerous lesser awards. He was the force behind Edinburgh's 3 biggest dramatic hits 12 Angry Men, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (2004) and The Odd Couple (2005). His 2010 production of Morecambe transferred to the West End and won a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment (plus another nomination for the actor playing Eric). At Edinburgh 2014, his epic 30 actor production of Animal Farm with Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre of Tbilisi, Georgia, won the Stage Award for Best Ensemble.
As a performer, he was nominated for The Stage Award for Best Actor for A Soldier's Song (1998), Under Milk Wood in 2003, Shylock in 2011, and won in 2001 with Fern Hill & Other Dylan Thomas. He received Edinburgh's most prestigious accolade, The Jack Tinker Spirit of the Fringe Award, in 2003. At Edinburgh 2016 he created his first overtly stand-up comic piece, Barking Mad! which since toured to Australia. Most recently, at Edinburgh 2017, he directed Hollywood star, Michael Brandon in his debut stand-up piece Off Ramps.
His theatrical commitments have largely kept him out of mainstream film and television, however, he has made the obligatory appearance on Casualty (Christmas Special 2004) and has been the Franziskaner Monk - the main character of a premium German beer - since 2007. He also writes plays, screenplays and poetry.
His passion is to bring great ideas to life and new talent to the stage. He is married to Brigitta and father to Indigo and Tallulah...


I have always been moved by stories of the great war. Books, films and poems. But, other than the Oscar winning All Quiet on the Western Front, we rarely hear the experiences of our foes. How similar were they to ours? I wanted to investigate the entire poetic landscape from both sides of No-Mans' Land. We are all familiar with the words of Wilfred Owen and Siegfied Sassoon, but rarely do we hear those of Isaac Rosenberg or Erich Maria Remarque...
I don't want to delve into the whys or wherefores of War. War is War and it is awful. I am more interested in the ultimate human drama of the combat soldier offering his life for his country or comrade, and the terrible conditions in which those dramas are played out - a theme I have explored before in A Soldier's Song about a Private in the Falklands Conflict.
And I am very interested in poetry - in particular, the sound of it. I prefer to hear poetry rather than read it. The experiences are quite different. The former is more actualising, the latter, too lonely and cerebral for my taste. Hence this show...
Over the next four years we are commemorating the Great War. Dubbed 'The War To End All Wars' (of course it wasn't and isn't) it pitted ordinary men forced to use elementary military tactics against modern killing machinery. The result was terrible, but the plethora of horror also fomented a huge poetic surge as young men sought to express their sentiments in deeper philosophical ways. I have thus chosen to confine my commemoration to the trenches and the experience of them rather than to include pre and post war sentiment and reflection. I wish to convey the poetry in the moments of ultimate experience.
The fact that many of the poets featured in this compilation did not outlive the war is testament that they wrote in the moment, and the vividness of those moments is dramatic and powerful. That is what I wish to explore.
My selection of Poems is not definitive; I may add to it or I might subtract from it. For now, I have picked those that speak to me the most. There are many others that I have not been able to include. And the story excerpts I have selected from Erich Maria Remarque’s extraordinary All Quiet On The Western Front are of course not poetry, but they are poetic in a different way. Some prose is required as a respite for the ear and the mind's eye.
And my story of The Christmas Truce is entirely fictional, invented from snippets of accounts available online. As with my celebration of Dylan Thomas' poetry and short stories, I have steered away from creating a play. I am not going to pretend that I am a soldier penning the words I am speaking in some kind of set depicting a trench or bunker. I am not dressing up in military garb to look like a soldier. I am far too old for that and probably look a little too much like General Haigh than I'd like to. I will present the words as purely as I can. I don't wish to set and dress the words. I wish to allow you to engage with them and create your own images. You will fill in the blanks much more vividly than I can. Guy Masterson


  • The Storyline: Guy Masterson has established himself as one of the world's foremost solo performers with globally renowned titles such as Under Milk Wood, Animal Farm and Shylock under his belt.
  • This compendium leads us into the lives and emotions of the soldiers of the trenches of WW1. It igives a deep and compelling insight into the nature of war, sacrifice and honour.
  • Any student of modern literature will find this production inspirational to their studies. Guy Masterson recites some of WW1's greatest writers and relives short stories as if he is the writer. The result is an immediate, poweful rendition that is impossible to resist.
  • Drama Students will enjoy the physicality of Masterson's performance, his control of voice and language and mastery of multiple characterisation
  • Workshops: Guy Masterson gives workshops in creating theatre from the written word, physical performance storytelling, theatre production, taking the stage, creation of presence and charisma within performance.

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Guy Masterson in Anthem for a Doomed Youth
Guy Masterson in Anthem for a Doomed Youth

Anthem Tek Specs - click to download To View or Download Specifications click here for Lighting states

(NB: This is a PDF file. You will require ACROBAT READER to read this document)

  • Doomed Youth requires only a tall bar stool (to be provided by venue if possible) on a bare, open stage.
  • Minimum theatrical playing area is 3 meters wide by 3 meters deep. This is compact. Larger is preferable. For Cabaret style or non-theatrical performances, ANY size will suit.
  • It can play auditoria ranging from the intimate (50 seats) to the large (1000 seats).
  • In bigger spaces, good computerised lighting facilities are preferable although the lighting can work manually with a minimal rig.
  • Good sound amplification is important. Sound effects are on Apple Mac Laptop running Qlab (TBC cues with no sound level changes)
  • One on the road domesticallyand internationally.
  • Lighting Cues: 30. Lighting map supplied by downloading here.
  • Cue script provided on day.
  • Post programing rehearsal time with technician - 2 hours.