History on the beaches as WWII comes to life

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Environmental message displayed at Formby Beach. Pic © Daniel Williams JMU Journalism

History was brought to life in a World War Two-inspired performance by Liverpool John Moores University Drama students.

The LJMU Drama and History departments and the National Trust Formby sent out an eco-friendly message with their show at Lifeboat Road Beach on Sunday.

Visitors role-played as newly-arrived ‘evacuees’ and took part in a two-mile tour across sand dunes and woods.

Along the journey, onlookers encountered dramatic and musical performances acted out and written by the students.

The stories told were based on historical research of what life was like during wartime Formby.

Drama tutor Dr Ros Merkin was overjoyed with how her students performed. She said: “I think it’s gone well. There’s always, inevitably, things that you go ‘oh I wish it was better’, but I think the students did an incredible job at telling the stories. I’m very proud of them.

“It’s not just about what they have done in terms of performance, but in reading all the research and coming up with ideas of scenes, and then working in quite a hard environment.”

Upon arrival, visitors were provided litter-pickers to collect rubbish along the way.

YouTube: Daniel Williams

The tour ended with a banner stating: “Your world needs you.”

Dr Merkin explained the significance of the eco-friendly message alongside the performance.

She added: “The issue of waste is really important for the National Trust and for the students. We wanted to think about how the notion of waste and the fragile ecology of this area paralleled the waste of war – the waste of lives.”

Around 67 students were involved in the production and had just six weeks to prepare.

Performer Ellie Ward believes it was a demanding experience. She said: “It’s been a challenge, but we’ve risen to it. There have been arguments, but you get that in everything you do with Drama. It’s been difficult but we’ve got here and everyone’s enjoying it.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback. [An] older gentleman said ‘oh I remember my father singing this [song], it was his favourite song’, so it’s touched everyone in a little way.

YouTube: Ana Madureira & Daniel Williams

About Daniel Williams, JMU Journalism