World War 1: Dominoes

Secondary School  

Washwood Heath Academy, Birmingham
9th April, 2016

We were looking for ways in which the life of the theatre company and the life of the school could mix a little more. Our opportunity came with the idea for a new show. Finger Trigger Bullet Gun was to be a play about how the first world war started. Part of the concept was that the action should take place in the centre of a huge array of dominoes waiting to be toppled. Our next challenge was how to get the dominoes made. At this point we thought of our friends at Washwood Heath Academy – they may like this as some form of challenge. We explained the concept and the school saw this as a great opportunity to focus some attention on World War 1.

In the end the school’s noble technicians made us thousands of dominoes, years 1, 2 and 3 all researched soldiers who had died on the Somme and inscribe thousands of dominoes with these names, ranks and date of death along with a posthumous message. Then these dominoes were transported to the school’s sports hall where a team of volunteers set them up for a toppling event that was filmed for the rest of the school to see.

Elsewhere Associate Artist Johnny O’Hanlon contributed further to the school’s World War 1 Dimension Day by mocking up a trench in the playground (built up and not dug down). To top off a great and frenetic day Ofsted inspectors turned up and found a school clearly demonstrating its commitment to sharing British Values.

A few weeks later the student leaders who were at the heart of coordinating the dominoe effort visited Finger Trigger Bullet Gun and its cast in rehearsals and members of staff saw the show, using the schools dominoes at The REP.

Decorated, set and toppled by: Year 7, 8 & 9
Made by: Wali Taylor
Direction: James Yarker
Trench: Johnny O’Hanlon
Thanks to: Mr. Weir, Rob, Linda and everyone else who made the logistics of the day work – especially the PE department who let us use their sports hall and then really put a shift in to make the day work!

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