Triple Bill - Letters from The Front

Posted on 6 March 2017

As rehearsals for the Triple Bill are well under way, I managed to grab some time with Gloria Lowe to talk more about their local love story Letters from The Front.

Could you tell me a little bit about Letters from The Front?
Letters from the Front is the amazing story of Edith Ainscow and Geoffrey Boothby – a real couple who were based in Birmingham and lived during the First World War. Edith and Geoffrey had spent a total of four incomplete days with each other before Geoffrey left for training in Dorset, and then to the Front. Geoffrey was part of the Royal Engineer Tunnellers and was involved in the subterranean struggle below the Ypres Salient. Over 18 months the couple’s relationship blossomed through only written correspondence and as their letters passed to and fro, they fell in love.

When we first came across this story two years ago in a book called: ‘Thirty-odd feet below Belgium, An Affair of Letters from the Great War 1915- 1916’ edited by Arthur Stockwin, we were very moved to discover the story of two really remarkable people who lived so close to home. It was even more remarkable to be able to read actual letters written by someone working in these conditions (not many accounts exist of those that worked in the tunnels during the war). But most remarkable of all, was their actual story – one that we felt ought to be shared.

Why is it important to tell local stories?
Telling local stories that may not be part of a mainstream historical narrative is vital to preserving and understanding our own heritage and to bringing communities closer together. Importantly, local stories can often reveal something to us about human nature. As we hear about the lives of everyday people who may have lived just a stone’s throw away from us, we are struck by our fundamental and shared humanity.

Letters from the Front is predominantly made of the real words written by Edith and Geoffrey. In it we hear about the soldiers marching up and down ‘New Street’, about Edith’s Medical studies at the ‘University of Birmingham’ and about Geoffrey trying to get to ‘Brum’ for leave. In this story, the West Midlands is home, a vibrant place to study, party and go to the theatre, a place in which people meet and fall in love.

What do you hope the audience will get from watching Letters from The Front?
Letters from the Front is a sharing of the true story of two remarkable people. It is almost impossible not to be moved by it. Indeed the story seems to strike a chord with anyone that comes into contact with it. It is both romance and tragedy, personal and universal, exhilarating and truly poignant.

Despite the circumstances in which they find themselves, Edith and Geoff’s letters are full of light and life. They tease and joke with each other, they write about shows they have seen, articles they have read and music they have been listening to. As the audience hear the real words of Edith and Geoff, we hope to show them that love, joy and sadness are as real in 1916 as they are today, and as they will be tomorrow and hope that through both traditional and digital storytelling, we can really do this story justice.

What is at the heart of Letters from The Front – and why should people get along to see it?
This is a local love story with humanity at its heart.

Glow was founded by Gloria and Francis Lowe, who together merge traditional storytelling with digital media to create performances they hope will offer audiences a new and exciting experience. Gloria has toured in productions for different audiences and age groups throughout the UK as well as working in education, developing and delivering arts workshops & projects internationally. Francis is the Course Director for the BA Illustration and Animation at Coventry University and has a background of working in animation for Children’s TV, including CITV’s ‘Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids’.