- Catch The Torch

Awaken conscience,
illuminate a darkening world.
Hear the voices of WW1 soldiers
“the war to end all war”
price of their suffering?
Sacred Sacrifice unfulfilled

Dryad.  Photo Credit: Cairenn RusseloCATCH THE TORCH!
1918 – 2008: 90 years since the end of ‘the war to end all war’.

Explore the old lie that our security comes from war and weapons instead of a vibrant, healthy natural world.
Reflect on the technological horrors of the First World War as the beginning of the development of increasingly devastating weapons and accelerating environmental decline as well as ‘acceptance of the unacceptable’.
What have we done to ‘The Garden’? Soldiers of WW1- mowed down as if their lives had little worth. Trees / wild spaces sacrificed today as if there is no sacred life force. The results of this blindness? Continuing violent conflict and climate change.
Today’s choice: endless war and environmental decline? Do we take a leap in consciousness? And create harmony on a healthy planet…
Is a proposed multi-media exhibit utilizing photography, installation and performance art to bring attention and awareness to the history and legacy of the First World War.

The poppy has come to represent ‘violent addictions’ and yet it is a flower of healing and great beauty. A visual examination of the poppy with words, ideas and facts will surround the space; like walking into a poppy field and a vast vocabulary of images of remembrance, this eloquent healing flower – interwoven with words, war images.

Installation Art:
The central sculptural image – is a model of a poppy 6’ across that visually transforms from a beautiful silk petaled blossom to ragged blood soaked bandages.

Performance art:
What if the restless spirit of a soldier arose from the mud, manifested as a tree spirit, (dryad), to warn and keep alive the hope of the end of all war? to plead to protect Nature’s cycles? (11,285 trees planted at The Vimy Memorial in France – represent lost soldiers who don’t even have a grave)

My grandfather, a soldier in the great war: the Somme, Vimy, Galipoli, Passchendaele. How did he find hope, shelled, buried alive under bodies, stomach bayoneted by a Turkish boy, enduring arm surgery without anaesthetic, witnessing staggering inhumanity? He was fighting ‘the war to end all war’.
He wrote: “Only that life is rich, that is kind.”

When WW11 was declared, in shock he wandered lost in Carlisle where he had enlisted in 1914. His body broke out in great sores. He threw all his medals into the sea. It was supposed to be ‘the war to end all war’.

Honor the sacrifice of all who fought and suffered ‘the war to end all war’.

The ideals that emerged from WW1 as represented on the Vimy Memorial are needed even more today:
“breaking the power of the sword”
“sympathy for the helpless”
“spirit of sacrifice”

Mayafair is seeking funding and creative partners to help support this timely exhibit.


• 1914 is the beginning of a dark age, by acceptance of the previously unthinkable in terms of treatment of other beings and the earth

• today’s problems are rooted in WW1; it was a major tipping point to the acceptance of the unacceptable

dehumanization resulting from accelerating war technology

• the connection between war and devastation of the planet

• causes of war – greed, profit, power

• Mother Nature is at a crisis of faith: will I continue to be reborn?

• 1918 was the beginning of war on nature and on beauty; diametrically opposed to the Romantic ideals of the relationship between beauty and truth

• the earth is full of restless pain; is the earth on another tipping point now because of the forces that began with WW1?

• Environmental decline – killing the planet; is this a psychotic desire for complete annihilation?

• the life force is no longer seen as sacred; instead it is a death force, thanatos on the rise; the balance between life force and death force is out of whack

• we have become dyslexic; our fear of death is causing violent death

war is hell; heaven versus hell—20th century philosophy i.e. existentialism “hell is other people”

• poppy has come to represent violent addictions – it is a beautiful flower with healing capabilities

• the souls of the old soldiers have no peace: it was the “war to end all wars” but war continues – their spirits are still restless

• create a common moral language i.e. mythology; look to the old myths to find our way [a light] in the dark

• war words connected to theatre words: the art of war; in theatre, staging of war etc.

• where to find the political will to solve problems peacefully; how to create the motivation for peace; alternate kinds of richness; “only that life is rich that is kind

• the need for forgiveness; what is the journey to forgiveness and thereby healing

• forgiveness needs to be the new tipping point into hope

• create a new earth-saving mythology in order to save our sanity and renew the idea of the sanctity of life


• appeal to individuals to become educated; nurture individuals in the will to protect the planet

• foster tolerance

outlaw killing for God



Starts in silence, darkness

Restless soldier spirit awakens – explores/stretches – emerges as if pushing up through the ground like a sapling (process)

Soldier spirit hears sounds and voices: the wind, a WW1 song, beat and hum of the earth, a human heartbeat – layer sound upon sound

Sounds of soldiers crying, dying – sounds of shelling, gunfire

Purposeful unfolding from the earth, coming from the past to save the future – to fulfill mandate to end war – awareness of beauty of life

Reliving the terror and despair

Voices of the earth crying, dying (cyclone winds, forest fires)

Frustration and anger


Military movements to organic movements

Repetition replaced by spontaneity

Costume transforms from soldier to dryad, evolves in the process of awakening – transforming – appealing

The arc is from restless death and unconsciousness to life and awareness – from terrible sadness, through forgiveness, to hope

Fire to silk


Wind gentle to raging
Shelling and bombs exploding
Gunfire single shots and machine guns

soldier’s voices: “catch the torch!”; “peace, I need peace”; “I plead for life”; “terrors tearing me apart”; “retreat, retreat”;; “we need rest”; “we are the dead, restless dead”; “trapped in torture”; “our souls long to be at rest”; “hear our plea”; “regret to inform”; “my bones, my broken bones”; “shoot now, now, now”; “fire, fire, fire”; “war to end war, end war, end war”; “over the top” “catch the torch!” cries of pain

“we didn’t die for you to kill the planet”; “bones, bones, look into your bones”; “plant trees”; protect trees”; “clean the rivers”; “care for the air”; “stop killing”; “victory is caring” etc.

The Great War [CD]

military marches – death marches – rhythmic marching – bag pipes

piper’s lament “Flowers of the Forest”

emotionally moving songs from war to peace

drums: transform from military to earth rhythms

Spirituals, native chants, rhythms

“angels beat your wings divine”: esp. chorus


emergence from the ground [awakening]
various forms of no man’s land crouching and crawling
tableaux of war like postures
semaphore signals
heavy rhythmic marching starting with heel drops
slow motion hit by a bullet
shaking [like Parkinson’s]
cerebral palsy flamenco, slow motion

gravity transitions
highlight transitions between soldier and dryad
from bowed and injured to tall and determined
drum to music
anger to forgiveness with heart/fist
flamenco like clapping as emotional vocabulary

spinal roll down and up, rooted at knees
heart to earth
roots into the ground
sky/ground anchoring, centre becomes flexible trunk
rhythmic root like hand/arm
ritualized healing [nature spirit]
lizard helmet
infinity shapes [healing gesture]

sounds begin first – wind howling, ghostly voices of WW1 soldiers, shelling from a distance

an old boot on a skeletal leg emerges, twitches – tries to find ground
begins rhythmic movement – second boot appears – writhing, trudging movements, dragging

figure gradually emerges – pulling up from mud, earth – figure in a ragged uniform and bloody bandages
soldier spirit is restless, disoriented – movement linked to soundscape – unhappy, no peace – voices – in front of WW1 landscape

gradual sound and movement transition to earth tree spirit – dryad – appearance changes as uniform and bandages drop off – in front of green forest backdrop – some freedom and joy in movement – strong heart beat, native drumming – rooted and winged like movement

climax is sound of saws and the felling of trees – dryad sinks to ground – last image in front of clear cut ( or modern techno stark concreted landscape) is dryad hand holding up a growing seedling


performance area:
three part backdrop is treed –
1. like the destroyed dead dark forests of WW1 battlefields devastated trees – images from Passchendaele – not stark but more ghostly as if in memory of fog – scattered amongst are simple white crosses and poppies
2. a beautiful light dappled forest scene
3. a modern area of bare clear cut landscape

light/dark = leaves/defoliation

floor-cloth – mud, leaves, roots, branches – in front of backdrop is a hillock – an earthy rise from which will emerge the soldier spirit

costuming: muddy doc martens; ragged puttees; bones showing through uniform muddy and in tatters, masque with bandages and leaves transforms to green leafy dryad like costume think injured ‘green man’.

MAYA FAIR is seeking funding partners. If you or your organization is interested in supporting this timely project please contact us.