Tommy's Sisters - Five women in 1916

Tommy’s Sisters, based on diaries and archives, tells the moving story of life on the WW1 home front in a small Dorset town in 1916 through the eyes of four women and a girl.

What was it like to be one of thousands of munitions workers at a huge cordite factory, a nurse looking after grievously injured soldiers at a Red Cross Hospital, or a young girl wondering if she’ll ever see her friend again ? The 28 minute film was written and directed by Gill Horitz and Tony Horitz from State of Play Arts in partnership with filmmaker Alastair Nisbet from arts organisation ScreenPLAY.

James Webb, assistant curator at the Museum of East Dorset in Wimborne which commissioned the film with Heritage Lottery funding, said it had been a great opportunity to work with arts professionals to tell the stories of people in East Dorset 100 years ago. “Working with scriptwriters, directors, filmmakers and actors has brought these stories to life for everybody to give us a real feel of what life was like for these courageous women. Across the country there would have been thousands of others like them, but their story is largely untold.” Sources used in developing the screenplay include a nurse’s autograph album signed by the young soldiers she looked after, and the diary of musician Olive Harcourt who put her musical career on hold to come to Dorset to work for the Red Cross. Writer Gill Horitz said she wanted to create a feel of what life in the shadow of war was like for these women. “We wanted to portray these their lives through their words, using their objects, photographs and other documents as inspiration. We wanted to give voice to them going about their everyday lives in the streets of Wimborne and beyond, always in the shadow of war and its continuous impact.”

Read extracts from Olive Harcourt's diaries in the project Voices from 1918 -

The Gathering - Messages from the Great War

A blood-stained letter from a soldier’s uniform, a gleaming set of medals from the “Great War for Civilisation” and the church where a young Dorset couple were married all feature in a moving new WW1 drama by State of Play Arts.

The Gathering - Messages from the Great War, brings together two soldiers and members of their families to reflect on their lives and the war which took so many of the country’s sons.  The characters, based on real people from Dorset, tell their stories in their own words drawn from letters and family archives.

Originally performed in Holtwood Methodist Church - the Weslyan chapel where the young Will and Tillie Cutler were married, and where their grand-daughter today is a member of the church and local community. The play was later performed on a short tour for Artsreach, Dorset’s rural touring organisation.

The Gathering, written by Gill Horitz and Tony Horitz, is a State of Play Arts and ScreenPLAY co-production in partnership with the Museum of East Dorset, Wimborne.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.