WWII POET TO BE CELEBRATED AS PART OF D-DAY 75TH ANNIVERSARY
The life and work of World War Two poet and soldier, Keith Douglas, is to be celebrated in Normandy on the 75th anniversary of D-Day in June 2019.
A new immersive audio experience based on Unicorns, Almost – a play by Welsh poet, playwright and novelist, Owen Sheers – has been created by The Story of Books for the commemoration events in Bayeux, Normandy.
Unicorns, Almost portrays the short life of Keith Douglas, from his childhood and his four engagements through to his fighting in the Western desert, his accelerated education as a poet and his early death, three days after the Normandy D-Day landings.
It is the story of his Faustian pact with a war that would nurture his poetic voice before taking it away. It is also the story of his desperate race to see his poems in print.
Widely recognised as the finest poet of World War II, Keith Douglas was championed by Ted Hughes as an important influence. Hughes wrote the introduction to Douglas’s The Complete Poems, published by Faber.
Directed by John Retallack, with sound design by Jon Nicholls, and with Dan Krikler as Keith Douglas (‘wonderful performance’ — Margaret Atwood) visitors will be invited to a private audience with Douglas, speaking from beyond the grave. Keith Douglas was killed on 9 June 1944 outside St Pierre, following a night spent sleeping under the stars in Bayeux.
The immersive audio experience produced by The Story of Books (based in Hay-on-Wye, Wales) includes an evocative set, an exhibition and a gallery designed and made at an old tool factory in Normandy by Q Ateliers. Visitors are seated in semi-darkness for the 60-minute recording, almost like stepping into an audio book or a radio play. The €5 entrance fee includes 45 minutes following the recording to take in the exhibition and an accompanying soundscape (mix of music, radio clips, voice over and Morse code), also designed by Jon Nicholls.
A truly unique experience that brings poetry, books, and a writer’s life in a powerful and emotive immersive environment.
Each visitor will receive a letterpress printed poem sheet set and printed by hand by Incline Press in Albertus type, designed by Berthold Wolpe (known for his book cover designs for Faber & Faber) and used in the 1930s by the Ministry of Information. Camembert boxes from Normandy have been used to created overlapping circles printed in coloured ink.
Unicorns, Almost is part of Summerhall’s Army at the Fringe programme at Edinburgh Fringe, 2-25 August 2019. This comprises the immersive audio experience and a live show with Dan Krikler.
Unicorns, Almost live show goes to Bristol Old Vic 3-7 September to tie in with the 80th anniversary of the start of World War Two.
Written by: Owen Sheers
Directed by: John Retallack
Produced by: The Story of Books
With Dan Krikler as Keith Douglas
Sound design: Jon Nicholls
Lighting design: Ben Pickersgill