Hull Pals remembered through Run for the Line

Published: Wednesday 26th April 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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Run for the Line by The History Troupe marks the centenary of the Arras Front. We caught up with founder Rob Bell to find out more.

The show follows the story of Jack Harrison (pictured) and Tom Bryan. Both played rugby league before the outbreak of the First World War and lost their lives on the Arras Front.

The musical performance will take place at Holy Trinity Church this Thursday.

“The Arras Front was basically Hull’s Somme,” Rob tells us. “Starting on 9 April 1917 and continuing until June, the long battle claimed more lives per day than the Somme, many of which were from the Hull Pals.”

On the first day of the French battle, Castleford player Tom was wounded when he went forward to silence a machine gun post. Meanwhile, Jack was killed on 3 May, after destroying a machine gun post hidden in Oppy Wood.

“Jack was a celebrated player for Hull FC. He had scored 52 tries in the season before the war. He ran for the line as a rugby player and ran for the line of machine guns as a soldier,” explains Rob. “And that’s what the performance represents.”

Both men received the Victoria Cross for Conspicuous Bravery and will be remembered during this incredible performance. A small but heartfelt compensation for the sacrifice they made.

“A team of us have written songs, stories and poems to create this performance,” Rob expands.

“The show itself will be 60 minutes long, featuring 10-11 songs. I’ll be the narrator, whilst performance poet Mike Watts will act as a soldier and Tarin Puckering, a University of Hull Drama Graduate, will play the role of a soldier’s wife.”

The Troupe had recent success with A Tale of Two Cities, which told the story of Hull FC and Hull KR. The show sold out across four nights, performed to 12,000 people.

“The History Troupe is a group of writers, actors, musicians and artists. We explore local, hidden histories through music, art and poems,” Rob tells us.

“We’ve had a lot of success with a play called The Box,” he continues. “It’s about Hull docks in the 1970s and has been popular all over the country, and has even sparked interest in the US.”

The History Troupe also works with schools and communities in the area to deliver talks, workshops and readings.

“We’ve managed to do quite a lot in the past three years,” says Rob proudly. “And we’ve got some exciting things coming up in the next few months, so watch this space.”

Rob has had an interest in history since he was a young boy and thinks it’s vital that we continue to take pride in our heritage:

“We’ve got a problem with dementia within the community. We’ve lost track of our past and we’re no longer using the knowledge of the past to move forward to the future.”

Through art, theatre and inspiring words, The History Troupe hopes to change that.

To find out more and purchase tickets for Run for the Line, please visit the Holy Trinity Church website.

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Published: Wednesday 26th April 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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