WWI love story brought to life through Dance Theatre

The Troth – a story of love, loss and sacrifice in World War One – told through dance, archive film footage and an evocative sound-score featuring Army musicians comes to Blackburn next month.

In the centenary year of the World War 1 Armistice, the British Army is delighted to support this vital story which explores the huge contributions made by soldiers of the Empire and of undivided India in particular.

Based on Chandradhar Sharma Guleri’s iconic Hindi short story from 1915, The Troth tells the story of one soldier and the sacrifice he makes in the trenches of Belgium to keep his secret promise to an unrequited love.

This powerfully emotional piece of dance theatre was conceived by Akademi’s director Mira Kaushik OBE and choreographed and directed by Gary Clarke. Through dance, music and film, it tells a story of love, loss and sacrifice against the backdrop of the First World War. More than 1.3 million Indians contributed active service during the war – they were the largest voluntary force ever assembled and their losses were staggering.

Lt. Col Jo Young, the British Army’s Officer for Arts Engagement, says: “The British Army is thrilled to be supporting the production of The Troth. It tells a vital piece of World War I history and speaks volumes about shared heritage. Army musicians were involved in the sound score, contributing military themes and authenticity to the fantastic composition by Shri Sriram, and soldiers worked with the dancers to assist them in the portrayal of drill, PT and movement under fire.”

Choreographer and director Clarke collaborates with dramaturg Lou Cope to tell the soldier’s story. Revelatory wartime archive footage and new subtitled films by Josh Hawkins are used to unfold the narrative to stunning effect.

BASCA award-winning composer Shri Sriram laces his original composition with evocative sounds from World War I and Indian folk music. The score features musicians of the Band of the Coldstream Guards and The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra (Corps of Army Music).

The Troth marks the centenaries of World War I (1914-18), Indian cinema (1913) and the first Hindi short story (1915). Leading academics and experts who have contributed to the project are Amarjit Chandan (Poet and academic), Dr Santanu Das (literary specialist and historian at Kings College London specialising in World War I), Tripurari Sharma (Professor of Acting at the National School of Drama, Delhi) and Ashok Sagar Bhagat (Professor of Theatre Architecture at the National School of Drama, Delhi) and Jasdeep Singh (Community Curator, National Army Museum).

The cast includes Dom Coffey, Mithun Gill, Alistair Goldsmith, Deepraj Singh, Subhash Viman Gorania and Vidya Patel, finalist in BBC Young Dancer of the Year 2015 who has performed to great acclaim with Richard Alston Dance Company. Lighting design is by Charles Webber and costumes by Abha Desai.

Winner of a Herald Angel and a Lustrum award and recipient of a host of five- and four-star reviews at the British Army’s Edinburgh Fringe 2018 venue, Akademi’s The Troth begins a six- venue autumn tour, presented in association with the British Army, at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff on 9 November.

In addition to the autumn tour, The Space film of The Troth is being screened by First Site at Colchester on 25 October at 7pm. The screening is part of Theory Opera, a number of events at the gallery running during a major exhibition by artists Raqs Media Collective.

At various venues there will be the opportunity to participate in post-show Q&A discussions with members of the Army, the creative team and dancers from Akademi.

The Troth will commence its November 2018 tour, presented in association with the British Army, including Blackburn Cathedral, Cathedral Close, Blackburn BB1 5AA on Monday 19 November at 7.30pm. Box office: 01254 277430 / https://www.blackburncathedral.com/events/category/public/ Ticket prices: (£8 tbc)