We are hugely excited to be hosting Charlie Ward at the museum. Co-commissioned by Fuel Theatre and 14-18NOW to mark the centenary of the First World War, this intimate, immersive and immensely powerful sound installation places audiences in the heart of a makeshift wartime hospital, where an unlikely therapy brings solace and comfort to those injured on the battlefield.
C Ward 1914. In a makeshift hospital, behind the front line, the war’s first casualties are treated. To boost morale, medical staff arrange for a Chaplin film to be shown for the bedridden, with the ward’s ceiling serving as the silver screen.
For one soldier, the flickering images, whirring projector and Chaplin’s perfect comic timing trigger complex emotions and memories. Cast from the trenches into childhood, from trauma to dreams, the hospital film show sets him on a journey into a personal no man’s land.
This immersive sound installation for a small audience lasts approximately 15 minutes and includes some periods of total darkness. It is suitable for ages 12+.
Want to find out more -View a series of short videos with co-director, Dan Jones discussing WW1, Charlie Chaplin, and Sound Design
We were visited by Catherine Love from the Guardian and she's written a fantastic review of the production - see below.
Charlie Ward review – Chaplin's slapstick turns into shellshock
4 out of 5 stars.
Fleeting and dreamlike ... a still of Charlie Chaplin from Charlie Ward. [Photograph: Sound&Fury]
York Army Museum
Lying in a row of beds, an audience of 8 is transported to a wartime hospital in Sound&Fury's arresting show.
Fleeting and dreamlike ... a still of Charlie Chaplin from Charlie Ward. Photograph: Sound&Fury
There are no images of the first world war in this commemorative installation. So acquainted are we with the iconography of trenches, mud and barbed wire that the absence is more powerful than any number of poppies or corpses. Unseen, the horrors of conflict become all the more haunting.
Charlie Ward attempts instead to enter a shell-shocked imagination. Lying in a row of beds, an audience of 10 is transported to a wartime hospital, surrounded by its busy hum of noises. Dan Jones’s intimate sound design takes us into the mind of Harry, a wounded soldier drifting in and out of consciousness, moving between memory and trauma. In one moment, his mother’s voice is whispering tenderly in our ears; in another, the room vibrates with the impact of an exploding shell.
The eponymous Charlie is Chaplin, whose films blur with Harry’s fragmentary recollections. Inspired by the discovery that Chaplin’s films were shown to recovering soldiers during the war – projected on to the ceilings of hospital wards – designers have done the same here. Short clips of clowning are interspersed with periods of utter darkness, combining to create a surreal sense of disorientation. Slapstick comedy slowly gives way to something more unsettling.
Compared with some of the other artworks in the 14-18NOW programme – Paul Cummins and Tom Piper’s huge wave of ceramic poppies or Jeremy Deller’s countrywide We're Here Because We're Here – Charlie Ward is a slight thing. Running at 15 minutes, it’s fleeting and dreamlike but like the most arresting dreams, it lingers in the mind long after waking up.