York to host commemorative First World War sound experience

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, York Army Museum is hosting the critically acclaimed Charlie Ward sound installation.

The installation, orchestrated by Sound&Fury, shows how hospital staff at improvised wartime hospitals would screen Charlie Chaplin films to injured soldiers in an effort to boost morale.

Sound&Fury’s 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.

Some say that British soldiers in the trenches held up cardboard cut-outs of Charlie Chaplin’s tramp in the hope that the enemy would die laughing. But as the carnage of war set in, Chaplin’s image was put to a different use. To boost morale, medical staff at improvised hospitals near the front line arranged for Chaplin films to be shown for the bedridden, with the ward’s ceiling serving as the silver screen.

For one soldier on Charlie Ward, the flickering images, whirring projector and Chaplin’s perfect comic timing trigger complex emotions and memories. Cast from the trenches to childhood, from trauma to dreams, the hospital film show sets him on a journey into a personal no man’s land.

Using their distinctive style – total darkness, minimal lighting and immersive sound design – Sound&Fury’s extraordinary work returns for a much-anticipated encore after premiering to great critical acclaim during 14-18 NOW’s opening season in 2014.

Charlie Ward is a sound installation lasting around 15 minutes and presented to audiences of just 10 people at each performance.

Premiering to great reviews in 2014, the immersive art installation has been described as “hauntingly beautiful’ by The Telegraph and ‘genius’by The Times.

The installation is being shown as part of ‘York Remembers: Lifting the shadow of the First World War’, a remembrance project launched by City of York Council. The project will see over 70 events, projects and exhibitions hosted in the city this autumn.

Co-commissioned by 14 – 18 NOW WW1 Centenary Art Commissions and Fuel Theatre, the Charlie Ward sound installation will be on display at the York Army Museum 25 September – 4 October in honour of the centenary.

The sound installation is 15 minutes in duration and is presented to audiences of seven or less per performance.

Tickets can be booked here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/charlie-ward-tickets-49595298874.

Councillor Keith Aspden, executive member for economic development and community engagement, said: “The Charlie Ward installation allows us to experience memories from the First World War and invites the audience on this intimate and moving tale.”

“The installation is suitable for all ages and is a wonderful way to get people involved in the city-wide programme; York Remembers, which commemorates the centenary and those who fought throughout the War.”

Allison Freeman, activities officer at York Army Museum, said: ‘We are looking forward to hosting such a unique experience as Charlie Ward at the museum. This immersive and immensely powerful sound installation places audiences in the heart of a makeshift wartime hospital, where they can experience the story and memories of a WW1 soldier.’

Full details of the York Remembers programme are available at www.york.gov.uk/WW1Commemorations

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