A Nutkhut production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival, and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, QED, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

1.5 Million Indian men went to war.

2,300 awoke in a palace…

Map

‘As part of Britain’s Centenary Anniversary of the First World War Nutkhut is presenting an ambitious programme of immersive performances and installations based in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Garden which bring the past into the present, immersing the audience in the untold history of these brave soldiers, so far from home, fighting the war of other men.’


Dr Blighty is one of the untold stories of The Great War – when the fashionable promenades of Brighton became the footpaths to recovery for thousands of wounded soldiers from the Indian subcontinent.

In 1914, the early months of history’s most unforgiving conflict, Britain found herself short of experienced soldiers, such was the ferocity of the new battlefield weaponary they faced. The onus to fill the void fell on the son’s of Empire.

Muslims, Sikhs and Hindu men left their homes for a journey to the darkest corner of earth – Europe’s Western Front. Heroic fighters who valued battlefield honour above all else, tales of their sacrifice and valor lived long. Many of the men did not. Many more were wounded, and it is their story Dr Blighty follows.

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion is an instantly recognisable architectural delight, with its Indian-style minarets and oriental domes reminiscent of a maharaja’s palace. Converted into a 722-bed hospital it became home to 2,300 soldiers of Empire during the war. The rumour – the British authorities made no effect to quash – was that this the home of King-Emperor George V himself, specially vacated for wounded heroes. In times of war, morale is the powerful weapon.

Great efforts were made to accommodate the needs of the varied religions and castes, Muslim soldiers had meat prepared in accordance with Islamic rites, whereas Hindus and Sikhs had a separate supply. Pork was banned from the grounds. Gas-fired ovens were provided for Indian cooks, who made dal and chapattis for the sick men.

Authorities were acutely aware that the loyalty of these far flung soldiers were crucial to hopes of victory, and barely a day past without a visit from dignitaries conveying best wishes.

We know all this from the swathes of letters written by the stricken men to family and loved ones back home. Although this written history is also a product of the fog of war – many of the soldiers were illiterate and conveyed their messages to hospital scribes – any sentiments expressing the futility and injustice of Europe’s conflict were struck out by the censor’s pen. The recipients were usually no more literate than the sender, providing it’s own complications. But this was the way of things; across India the city of Brighton became synonymous with restoration and health – a blessed place where their son’s and husbands slept in the King’s own home.

As part of Britain’s Centenary Anniversary of the First World War Nutkhut is presenting an ambitious programme of immersive performances and installations based in and around Brighton’s Royal Pavilion which bring the past into the present, immersing the audience in the untold history of these brave soldiers, so far from home, fighting the war of other men.

‘Stay in the village and carry on the work as a headman. Do not go elsewhere. Think over what I say and you will understand what I mean when I say stay in the village’.

A Nutkhut production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival, and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, QED, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Dr Blighty is one of the UK’s most ambitious outdoor projects to date, bringing together arts,heritage and education into a 6 day free to public event. Taking place on a conservation site, Dr Blighty through an extensive region wide schools programme, brings together award winning artists, academics, archivists and audiences together to share and present the story of the Indian soldiers, in a way which has never been attempted before – its a bold and confident attempt to re tell an age old story, for new audiences.

If you are interested in this story and would like to find out more, please go to our partner websites for a detailed insight into the lives and experiences of the Indian soldiers:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – a comprehenisve site, detailing food, theatres of war and rank of the Indian soldiers.

www.cwgc.org/foreverindia/

The National Archives – the official archive and publisher for the UK government and guardians of over 1,000 years of iconic national documents.

www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/first-world-war/

The Keep – The Keep is a world-class centre for archives that opens up access to all the collections of the East Sussex Record Office (ESRO), the Royal Pavilion & Museums Local History Collections and the internationally significant University of Sussex Special Collections. It is also a centre of excellence for conservation and preservation and represents the new generation of archive buildings in the UK. We have been working with The Keep to ensure Dr Blighty continues to exist as a legacy within the remit of The Keep.

www.thekeep.info

The National Army Museum is the leading authority on the history of the British Army and a first class museum that moves, inspires, challenges, educates and entertains. NAM have been centraly to advising the Dr Blighty team on authenticy and accurancy in dresscode and uniform.

www.nam.ac.uk

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest libraries. Our collections include more than 150 million items, in over 400 languages, to which three million new items are added every year. We house books, magazines, manuscripts, maps, music scores, newspapers, patents, databases, philatelic items, prints and drawings and sound recordings. The BL has been the central source for research into the letters for the Dr Blighty team.

www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/the-indian-sepoy-in-the-first-world-war

Royal Pavilion – A small gallery on the upper floor of the Royal Pavilion tells the story of the Indian hospital. It features numerous photographs and paintings, some original artefacts from the hospital, and a film showing King George V’s visit to the hospital in August 1915.

brightonmuseums.org.uk/royalpavilion/news-events/dr-blighty/

ARTISTIC TEAM
Ajay Chhabra Artistic Director
Shri Shriram Composer
Tom Piper Design
Ben Raine Production Manager
Louise Green Project Manager
Jenny Campbell Stage Manager
Thor McIntyre-Burnie Soundscape
Sian Thomas Performance Director
Deirdre Daly Assistant Performance Director
Stephen Clark Writer
Phil Supple Lighting Designer
QED Projections
Novak Video & Animation
Ed Carter Sound Designer
Charlie Camm Set Fabrication
Waqas Choudhry Lead Musician
Roberta Spicer Project Manager

A Nutkhut production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival, and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, QED, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

David Murphy conductor davidmurphyconducts.org

Art Malik narrator en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Malik

Kala Ramnath indian classical violin, Gurdain Rayatt tabla, Pirashanna Thevarajah percussion, Simon Blendis violinVAUGHAN WILLIAMS The Lark Ascending

BUTTERWORTH The Banks of Green Willow
VAUGHAN WILLIAMS Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
-interval-
RAMNATH The Seasons of India

Music, words and imagery combine to recall memories of the Raj. The Philharmonia Orchestra and violin virtuoso Kala Ramnath perform some of the best-loved English works of the period, alongside Ramnath’s own traditional music scored for violin, orchestra and Indian folk instruments. With readings from letters and diaries written by injured Indian servicemen recuperating in Brighton, this promises to be a truly poignant and evocative concert.


Diya Making Workshops

‘We are making a clay diya to represent each of the 2,300 wounded Indian soldiers treated in the Royal Pavilion, and we are inviting you to make one too.

Diyas are oil lamps, usually made from clay, with a cotton wick dipped in ghee or vegetable oils. Housing a small flame these lamps were used as a form of commemoration, celebration and to provide light in times of darkness for the writing of letters.’

Brighton conjures many different images to many different people, through many different eras. Today’s city could be clumsily described as liberal; fashionable; the town with the burnt out pier. 30 years ago it was all deckchairs, fish and chips, kiss me quick. In Edwardian times a place of elegance, class and opulence. But for hundreds of thousands of people beyond Britain’s shores on the Indian subcontinent, the children and grandchildren of Muslim, Sikh and Hindu soldiers in the Great War, the word Brighton resonates entirely differently. It is a place of healing, of hope, and, too often, the duel loss of war – the loss of life and loss of innocence. This was an appearance conveyed across Continents in letters and postcards, and in the verbal history passed down generations.

Some have called the experience of these brave men who convalesced in Brighton’s Royal Pavilion between 1914–16 a forgotten history. But for those around the globe who’s ancestor’s battle exploits are still proudly recounted, it has never been forgotten. Here in Britain it has, however, been neglected – which is why for the First World Centenary Nutkhut will takeover the city’s famous Royal Pavilion Gardens to reimagine and reignite the trials and tribulations of these soldiers, wounded and disorientated in a strange land. But, because of the care and kindness of the British people who treated them as their own they were never alone – a blessing those lucky enough to leave never forgot.


‘They take great care of us here such as no one else would take, except a man’s mother, not even his wife,’ Bir Singh, a Sikh of 55th Rifles.

‘Everything is such as one would not see even in a dream. One should regard it as fairyland. The heart cannot be satiated with seeing the sights, for there is no other place like this in the world. It is as if one were in the next world… I have never been so happy in my life as I am here.’

Subedar-Major Sardar Bahadur Gugan (6th Jats)

The war is a great sight at night. Here cannons are firing, there machine guns; here there are bright lights, there bombs hurl through the air. Bullets fly day and night incessantly drinking the blood of heroes.

A Nutkhut production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival, and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, QED, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

We live in an era scarred by ethnic and religious tensions, when what separates us has gathered more currency than what unites us. Dr Blighty is, in essence, about challenging this orthodoxy and subverting the narrative of division and hate; one hundred years ago Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus and Christians fought side-by-side, many giving their lives to help their fellow soldier, regardless of colour or creed.

Yet despite the powerful and transformative message this alternative history conveys it will not be found in any school textbooks. For a group like Nutkhut, whose work aims to educate as well as entertain, this neglect presents an opportunity to express in our inimitable manner that the ripples of the Great War spread so much further than just Europe.

To tackle a topic of such magnitude through art demands extraordinary ambition, which is why we have brought together artists from a plethora of disciplines such as performance and installations to contribute toward a single aim of creating a fully immersive experience within the grounds of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion, able to convey the emotional maelstrom of the recuperating Indian soldiers of the Great War.

But in addition to the breadth of talent involved Dr Blighty is created for the broadest possible audience, bringing theatre to the people, be it those who know this hidden history, those who don’t, or those who would rather turn a blind eye…

For God’s sake don’t come, don’t come, don’t come to this war in Europe. Write and tell me if your regiment any part of it comes and whether you are coming with it or not. I am in a state of great anxiety; and tell my brother Muhammad Yakub Khan for God’s sake not to enlist.

A Nutkhut production co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Brighton Festival, and Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, QED, and by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Dr Blighty draws its research on a wide variety of sources and key to this was developing young teams of students who each take on aspects of the project. City College in Brighton will take the lead on performance and it is now part of a final year unit and approved by examining body – University of Arts. Design students from University of Brighton are each working on costume, graphic design, contemporary narrative and symbolic representations which directly relate to the show. Each of these discreet aspects of the show will be documented and aspects of the work will be share in this section.

Arts_and_Education_Factsheet.pdf

HOW TO MAKE A DIYA – A STEP BY STEP GUIDE – Watch this fascinating film and make your own vimeo.com/166555473/settings

Launch of the Toolkit vimeo.com/220284982


"Visitors to Nutkhut's Dr Blighty, experienced a dreamlike environment of immersive installations, ambient soundscapes and theatrical interludes, inspired by letters the soldiers sent back home. After dark, enthralling 3D video projections animated the Royal Pavilion. "

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