For over a decade I have been working on an idea for a film concerning one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War - Mametz Wood. As a BBC producer I commissioned a short film about the poets who witnessed the battle and this led to Owen Sheers writing his powerful poem, Mametz Wood (which is now on the GCSE curriculum).
A year ago I teamed up again with Owen to produce something on a grander scale - but the result was not a film!
The result is a commission from National Theatre Wales and 14-18 NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commissions to research, write and create a play to tell the story of this incredible battle.
MAMETZ will be a large-scale, site-specific production performed in an ancient woodland near Usk, Monmouthshire, and will give audiences a vivid glimpse into life – and death – in the trenches and battlefields of the Somme.
Inspired by Welsh writer Owen Sheers’ poem Mametz Wood, it will draw on written material by the poets who fought in or witnessed one of the war’s bloodiest conflicts - the Battle of Mametz Wood, in which 4,000 of the the 38th (Welsh) Division were killed or wounded. Among the soldiers who took part were several key Welsh and English war poets, including Robert Graves, David Jones, Siegfried Sassoon and Llewelyn Wyn Griffith, and Sheers’ own great, great uncle, William Cross.
Mametz is co-commissioned by National Theatre Wales and 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.