Time in Afghanistan was true inspiration

The Haven Players in Cell Block Tango
The Haven Players in Cell Block Tango

Hunkering down inside a British military base in Kabul, Afghanistan, is not exactly the moment one would think of a local amateur music production being planned, but that is where the current Haven Players production, Generations, was developed.

The director Charisse Goddard, who worked as a civilian with the armed forces in Afghanistan for three years, came up with the idea for Generations while home in Eastbourne on leave in October last year.

When attending a rehearsal for their 2015 pantomime, Charisse noticed how older numbers brought the more mature members of the group to life, and younger members responded to more recent and upbeat numbers. So she “got to thinking” about how music and dance has evolved and whether old and new styles could be mixed together.

On returning to Afghanistan, Charisse kept busy between working hours planning the show. On some occasions this was a useful and much needed distraction, and a few of the numbers in the programme are directly related to her time in Afghanistan through their emotional connection to those with whom she served.

She said: “Working on Generations kept me sane during the hard months of my final tour. The military boys and girls were under more pressure than usual, albeit in different ways to those who served previously, and as part of the team providing Welfare Facilities to them, it was imperative that I found a way to keep smiling. And Generations was it! I even tested a few of the numbers on slightly bemused audiences on the camp.

“On previous tours, I had taken to showing videos of group productions for the troops wherever I was serving. I was pleasantly surprised by their reaction and I think it was about the ambiguity of it all – standing in a shop or café, in the middle of a war zone, watching a local drama group from home performing. It was quite surreal.”

That led to numbers like Cell Block Tango and Time Warp being included in the programme. Charisse said: “I will never forget showing the guys a performance of Time Warp and ending up with about twenty of them dancing in the aisles. In my mind it was my job to make them smile and forget where they were for even a moment and that certainly did. I always felt honoured to be amongst them and having experienced times of danger, but knowing our forces where protecting us, I loved being able to give something back.”

Comprised of 33 songs from widely varied genres and featuring a cast of more than 30, Generations explores music and dance evolving across the years.

The journey for the cast and crew has been an interesting one and the production promises to be entertaining for all, regardless of age and musical preferences.

Performances are on Friday September 25 and Saturday September 26 at 7.30pm, as well as a matinee performance on Saturday at 2.30pm, at the Stone Cross Memorial Hall, Dittons Road, Stone Cross, BN24 5EL.

Tickets cost £8 each and include snacks, tea, coffee and cakes at interval. A cash bar will also be available. Bookings can be made via The Haven Players website at www.havenplayers.com or by calling (01323) 460174. For updates on this and future productions, search The Haven Players on Facebook and like their page.