Not just one escape, but hundreds – that’s what Horace did to see his Rosa, overcoming the difficult times (and stealing a couple of chickens). The play inspired by their story, which shows that love always finds the way, hits the stage of New Diorama theatre on Valentine’s Day. Rianna Dearden and Olivia Hirst of Lost Watch tell us a little bit more about the play and their inspirations.
Rianna Dearden, Olivia Hirst and Agnes Wild met at East 15 acting school on the contemporary theatre course. The trio excels at writing, directing and acting – and soon, they formed Lost Watch. Their first collaboration, Play For September written by Olivia, premiered at Debut Festival in 2013 and showcased at Edinburgh Fringe later that year.
“We took it to Edinburgh without a clue what we were doing,” the girls explain.
Their newest play Flew The Coop takes us back to the WW2, telling a unique life story of a couple who found their way to be together despite the circumstances. Rosa Rauchbach, a Silesian woman of Jewish origin, got a translating job at the Prisoner of War camp, where she met Horace Greasley, a British detainee. He managed to escape the prison a handful of times to see his sweetheart – to come back behind the bars unnoticed, delivering supplies to his inmates.
“Rianna discovered Horace Greasley by seeing a picture of a Prisoner of War standing up to Heinrich Himmler,” explains Olivia. “The caption said it was Horace, but on further inspection, it turned out no one was really sure who it was. But the name Horace Greasley was still famous for his escape attempts. And then there was this girl, Rosa, who we couldn’t really find anything out about, but was really important to Horace’s story. We wanted both of them to be equally important to our story and we were really interested in filling in the gaps,” she says.
Writing about the past often involves a lot of research. The girls came across a book about Horace’s escapes – and it helped them to find the beat for the story.
“Flew the Coop is definitely not a remake of this book but it helped to get the feel of the characters and the atmosphere,” they explain. “We’ve gathered a lot of research from museums and archives, which help us to make sure the facts are correct… most of the time.”
And what does the title mean in the context of the play? Prepare yourself for some big birds onstage.
“It’s about escape, independence and freedom. There also may or may not be some chickens,” the Lost Watch tell us.
The collective turned to the past to look for inspiration before. One of their plays, Kate, was set in 1940’s Reykjavik – but they focus on stories rather than on re-emphasising the textbook history.
“In all of our shows, we tell honest stories and find our inspiration from true life. This often means we cross the subject of the past but without the need for a history lesson,” the girls make it clear. “WW2 history is widely taught, so half the work is done for us and we can concentrate on the people and the entertainment.”
And that’s basically the essence of the plays that Lost Watch write and produce. They look for interesting people, and their ideas stem from the things they like.
“We never stick to one style of theatre and just go with whatever style takes our fancy at the time,” they say about their work.
Right now, the collective warm up for Flew the Coop opening on the Valentine’s Day.
“We’re also working on a project called Performing Change with the Sick of the Fringe and Wellcome Trust, on the 18th February,” they say, shedding some light at their future plans.
Flew the Coop is on at New Diorama Theatre from 14 Feb – 4 March. Tickets available at http://www.newdiorama.com/whats-on/flew-the-coop