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The First

by Jayne Williams

The First is based on the global events of WWI from the perspective of two boys from a small town in the East Midlands. The First serves as a dramatic work of fiction based on historic fact; a hook to reel in the interest and intrigue of learners aged 9+, to ignite inquisitive minds to explore their own local stories that link to the global history of WWI.

Written as a dynamic epic poem to reflect the real life encounters from the trenches, the story follows two best friends – Frederick and Jack, as they grow together, play together and enter the Great War together. ­­

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More information

This play was commissioned by The Spark and Leicester Libraries as part of the Imaginative Spaces project. It was written by Jayne Williams, who was our Artist in Residence at Braunstone Library (The BRITE Centre) in 2014.

To commemorate the World War One centenary, Jayne wrote a one-person play inspired by local stories, gathered by the Braunstone History Group, and directed by Adel Al-Salloum, with actor Gary Lagden, ‘The First’ was originally performed in 2014 to 990 young people in Years 5 and 6, during a short tour of Leicester Libraries. It toured again in 2016 with the addition of live music by Aelfwyn Shipton as part of Among Idea Friends, touring to fifteen East Midlands libraries, performing to 1,333 children from twenty-seven schools.

It was obvious that the children had developed an emotional connection with the characters and as a result, had a much greater understanding of the events that occurred in the First World War.

Ismail DaleHeritage Schools East Midlands

Watching this play has made the children empathise with soldiers' lives back really had a positive impact on their Literacy writing and History learning.

Jasmin LallooYear 5/6 Phase Leader