The remembrance of the end of World War 1 is understandably at the forefront of many minds this month. Never Again, a production of new music by Emily Peasgood, has been developed especially to commemorate the centenary as part of the wider Sea Folk Sing project. Inspired by stories and memories from people across Kent, Never Again will be performed across venues in Strood, the Historic Dockyard Chatham and Sittingbourne to Sheerness. We went along to one of the final rehearsals at The Holy Trinity Church, Sheerness, to see how the production was coming together.
There is always something quite exciting about attending a rehearsal. The energy and anticipation in the room is often contagious and by the time you leave, you find yourself humming along to the melodies you only heard for the first time a few hours previous. Led by Tania Holland Williams, the production’s Artistic Director, the key aim of the rehearsal seemed to be refinement; making plans for every eventuality.
As you may already know, one of the performances of Never Again takes place on the train line from Sittingbourne to Sheerness-on-Sea. What was a cosy, carpeted church hall quickly became reimagined as a train carriage and shortly after, as the Queenborough bridge. If you have ever attended or been part of a live performance, you’ll know how much works goes in before hand. It’s more than just learning lyrics and hitting the right notes – neither of which is easy! There are also props to be used, intricate clapping segments to remember but more noticeable than anything is the dedication in practising with the aim of perfection.
Each performance will present a unique take on Never Again, but the themes and messages will remain the same throughout. The venues in which the performances will take place have been selected purposefully to allow everyone – performers and audiences alike – to share a journey, one that carries on long after the performance has finished.
It goes without saying that subject matter of Never Again is particularly poignant. The lyrics are both heartfelt and haunting. It’s particularly moving to see them performed by such a close-knit community choir, who clearly feel passionate about the messages they are conveying through the music. Elements of spoken word and tape recordings layer across the singing and there are moments where it feels like your whole body might erupt with goosebumps.
They sing how centuries pass in just one afternoon and it’s true. Never Again is a compact performance, which makes every line and every lyric all the more meaningful. There are moments of brevity, including a couple of very catchy choruses, but these never detract from the central message. The whole production is evocative of the past but aware of the present. A powerful refrain heard within the performance is that “nothing lasts forever”, but you’ll have to see Never Again for yourself to see what impact is carried forward from 1918 to now.
If you do anything this month, make sure you see a performance of Never Again. You can book your free ticket for the performances by visiting www.ticketsource.co.uk/seafolksing.
*Please note that there are limited tickets available for the train-based sections of the performance from Sittingbourne to Sheerness. Some tickets are still available for the performances at Queenborough and for the return journey from Sheerness. To avoid disappointment please make sure you book.