Tynecastle drama

Jul 13 2018 | By More

McCrae’s Battalion play for Hearts’ ground

Tynecastle Park is to become home to off the pitch drama during this year’s fringe with a new play about McCrae’s Battalion playing out in an an immersive production around the stands.

A War of Two Halves uses a behind-the-scenes view of the football stadium as the background to a dramatic retelling of the historical events of 1914 which led up to the formation of McCrae’s Battalion.

Heart of Midlothian Football Club's 1914-15 team, many of whom signed up to McCrae's battalion.

The Hearts team of 1914-15

It was in 1914 that Heart of Midlothian Football Club had won 19 of 21 matches to stand on the brink of becoming Scottish league champions. But in a remarkable show of comradeship and courage, 13 of their players decided to join the other volunteers from across Edinburgh to serve together in McCrae’s Battalion destined to fight in France.

Written by Paul Beeson and Tim Barrow, and featuring a cast of young Scottish actors, A War of Two Halves will play at Tynecastle from Thursday 2 to Sunday 19 August 2018, with four shows shows every day – except Saturday 11 when Hearts are at home to Celtic.

Under the direction of Bruce Strachan, artistic director of Edinburgh’s Nonsense Room Productions, the actors will portray the young players who became soldiers, taking Hearts from the football fields of Gorgie to the battlefields of the Somme.

“This is a truly iconic story and is absolutely synonymous with Edinburgh and Heart of Midlothian Football Club,” says Strachan.

Remarkable story

“It is an honour for us to bring this story to life. With 2018 marking 100 years since the signing of the Armistice, it is the perfect time to share the remarkable story of “the bravest team” for a new generation of fans.

Members of McCrae's Battalion in the trenches in France.

Members of McCrae’s Battalion in the trenches in France.

“Every Hearts fan will have heard of McCrae’s Battalion – this is the chance to really understand their story. For a wider audience, the opportunity to experience a behind-the-scenes view of a football stadium with a dramatic retelling of historical events will be a truly unique Fringe experience.”

Accused of being cowards for playing football, and inspired by Colonel George McCrae, the team joined up en masse alongside fans and players of rival teams to form the first of the Pals Battalions. Many were killed in the trenches of Flanders.

The promenade show, which begins and ends at the Fans’ Bar in the new Main Stand at Tynecastle, will go through parts of the stadium not usually open to the public, featuring stops in the new stand, the home dressing room – and even a purpose-built WW1 trench.

Lianne Parry, Head of Heritage at Hearts, said of the play: “By telling the story that started with a rallying cry at our ground from Lieut-Col. Sir George McCrae, it pays homage to the footballers who volunteered to go to the front in 1914.

ultimate price

“Many paid the ultimate price for their country. Their memory will never be forgotten and is honoured throughout Tynecastle Park.

Tynecastle New Stand, which will host a play during this year's fringe.

Tynecastle’s New Main Stand will host a play during this year’s fringe.

“This is a story that needs to be told to as broad an audience as possible. It takes on particular poignancy as it comes to life in the very ground the team left in 1914, with action taking place throughout the stadium.”

The company say that the production is suitable for those aged 12 and over, and emphasise that supporters of all football clubs (and none!) will be welcome.

As an immersive play, moving around the stadium, the production will involve some walking, a few flights of stairs and moving regularly and efficiently from one location to another.  It will last approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Listing and links

A War of Two Halves
Tynecastle Park, McLeod Street, EH11 2NL
Thursday 2 – Sunday 19 August 2018 (Not Saturday 11)
Daily (not Sat 11): 1pm, 3:30pm, 6pm and 8:30pm.
Running time: 1 hr 45 mins.
Tickets from Hearts eTicketing: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/heartofmidlothian/Events/Index
Prices: £24 (£20 concessions).
Friday afternoon deal: all 12-18 year olds £5.

Production website: https://www.awaroftwohalves.com
Facebook: @awaroftwohalves
Twitter: @HeartsMcCrae

The McCrae’s Battalion Trust: www.mccraesbattaliontrust.org.uk


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