Memorial by Alice Oswald | Brink Productions

"[Memorial]... contains a passion and majesty that is transporting, and transcendent."
★★★★★ The Guardian (UK)

"a transcendent piece of theatre"
★★★★★ The Stage (UK)

‘Magnificent … transcendentally beautiful … unutterably moving’ 
★★★★ Limelight Magazine (Australia)

Memorial is a Brink/Barbican coproduction. It will tour to the Barbican in September 2018.

In this richly layered theatrical experience, Alice Oswald’s extraordinary poem is performed on a grand scale, brought to impassioned life inside Jocelyn Pook’s transporting, otherworldly score.

Out of the darkness, a vast field of bodies emerges. At the centre of this universe, a woman stands as storyteller, her voice conveying the voice of a god, of the elements, of time itself, and of a thousand lives caught in visceral moments of war. All the while, a 215-strong community chorus moves as a haunting and uplifting presence across the stage, which evolves from battlefield to meadow to starlit sky.

Stripping much of the narrative from the Iliad, Oswald’s Memorial is an intense and urgent elegy for each of the 215 dead soldiers named in Homer’s epic, one that transcends time to explore profound themes. Her transformative text is embodied by one of Australia’s most celebrated actors, Helen Morse, joined here by an ensemble of singers and musicians. Directed by Brink Productions’s Chris Drummond, with choreography by Circa’s Yaron Lifschitz, the reflective, meditative and dynamic show stands as a requiem to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice during conflict and war.

WHERE QPAC - Playhouse, 2018 Brisbane Festival
WHEN 7-9 September

WHERE Barbican Theatre, London
WHEN 27-30 September

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc., Adelaide Festival, Brisbane Festival and Melbourne Festival. This project is supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund. This project is assisted by Arts SA - Independent Makers and Presenters - Major Commissions Fund. This project is co-commissioned by the Barbican and 1418 Now, WWI Centenary Art Commissions. Presented in association with Adelaide Festival Centre.

Concept Chris Drummond and Yaron Lifschitz
Director Chris Drummond
Actor Helen Morse
Composer Jocelyn Pook
Movement Yaron Lifschitz
Design Michael Hankin
Costumes Renate Henschke
Lighting Nigel Levings
Sound Jane Rossetto
Associate Director and Associate Movement Director Benjamin Knapton
Dancers Tobiah Booth-Remmers, Lina Limosani and Larissa McGowan
Music Director Jonathan Peter Kenny
Musicians Jonathan Peter Kenny, Kelly McCusker, Melanie Pappenheim, Belinda Sykes and Tanja Tzarovska 
Producer Lee-Anne Donnolley


‘Memorial is a shattering excavation of the scars of war through poetry, dance and mind-blowing score’ The Conversation

‘The brilliance of Oswald’s writing lies in its combination of unrelenting singular focus with endless poetic invention’ The Conversation

‘Pook’s score is a golden stream of soft, devastating sadness: the sinuous reediness of oboe, shawm and clarinet; the pong and chime of bells; the wail and keen of counter tenor and Bulgarian and Macedonian vocals. The musicians are suspended on an illuminated bridge above the stage, like demi-gods. At its most climactic, Memorial’s music is almost literally mind-blowing.’ The Conversation

‘In bringing this piece into existence, director Chris Drummond shows two things. First, that his ability to handle the outsize tools of epic performance, previously on show in Night Letters and When the Rain Stops Falling, is now approaching the definitive. Second, that his interest in the human condition, in vulnerability, in drama, remains squarely at the centre of his vision.’ The Conversation

‘Helen Morse is magnificent. Drummond has astutely recognized the dramatic strength of the poet’s text and found an outstanding actor to deliver it. Morse is pitch-perfect. Droll, laconic, fierce, never sentimental, she effortlessly inhabits this lithe, earthy poetry, giving each line clarity, each name its sombre due. Dressed in a rough-spun mulberry red patchwork shift, she is diminutive in contrast to the chorus but compelling as the narrator, aghast at what she describes, but unflinching witness to this bright unbearable reality.’ The Australian

‘Memorial is a deeply moving piece of theatre with a sublime score… the cumulative effect of the list of dying warriors is a powerful statement about the tragic waste of life. The ending, as all the performers sing “thousands of leaves” over and over in soaring harmonies (having compared thousands of leaves to thousands of bodies) is unutterably moving and tears slid down faces all over the auditorium.’ Limelight Magazine

‘What is being worshipped in this extraordinary stage adaptation of the poem is life itself.’ Stage Noise

‘There aren’t enough superlatives with which to crown this Adelaide Festival production. It creates for its audience one of those lifetime experiences, all at once beautiful, transcending, sensual, original and relevant.’ Barefoot Review

‘Cleverly choreographed by Yaron Lifschitz, artistic director of Queensland’s Circa, the chorus is an almost continual presence on the stage, variously representing humanity and changing landscapes as the poem move through space and time.’ Indaily

‘Set high above the stage where you imagine the gods would sit, a row of musicians and singers give life to an absolutely exquisite aural landscape, composed by multi-awarding composer Jocelyn Pook.’ Indaily

‘The three key elements – Pook’s score, the huge human chorus and Oswald’s powerful imagery given voice by Morse – combine to create an insightful and intense requiem to all those whose lives have been affected by the immeasurable tragedy and senselessness of war.’ Indaily