The Bull Players' performance of Fog of War -- their contribution to the commemorations to mark the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Barnet -- is to be staged in mid-September in the historic setting of the garden of Monken Hadley church.
Two afternoon performances during the weekend following the Barnet Medieval Festival will attempt to bring to life the daily toil of women working in a medieval kitchen as the local inhabitants ready themselves for what became one of the decisive confrontations of the Wars of the Roses.
The scene will be set by a large black and white drawing that forms the backdrop for the stage and the production will also include medieval music written specially for the occasion.
Siobhan Dunne the Players’ director and producer opted for open air productions on the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday 18-19 September as it will provide the safest acting environment for the cast and take advantage of an historic setting close to the scene of the battle.
Monken Hadley church was rebuilt in 1494 shortly after the battle of 1471 and the church gardens are thought to be close to the site of the chapel that was erected to commemorate the men who lost their lives in what was one of the decisive confrontations of the Wars of the Roses.
Fog of War has been written by Ms Dunne’s son James P Godwin, a budding playwright, who is about to complete a three-year creative writing course at Bath Spa University.
Rather than focus on the reasons and repercussions of the conflict between the Yorkist Army of Edward IV and the defeated Lancastrian forces of Warwick the Kingmaker, James wanted to explore the impact of the looming clash between the two armies and its aftermath on medieval life in Barnet.
The challenge he faced was to create a setting and script suitable for an amateur dramatic group, so he devised a story line with parts for the women and men who make up the 22-strong group of players.
Much of the action takes place in the kitchen of a medieval beguine, a women-only community, which he has placed next to the hermitage that later became Old Fold Manor at Monken Hadley, close to what is believed to be the battlefield site.
Fearful that victorious soldiers will pillage their beguine, the women of the house prepare themselves for the imminent battle and the trouble it might bring for local community.
They bake extra bread for the troops and embroider coats of arms of the competing forces in the hope they can be considered the allies of whichever arm prevails.
James, who is 21, has completed several drafts of the play which became his final year project, and it is ready for read throughs by the group.
Ms Dunne said the choice of the Monken Hadley church garden as a setting for the production seemed to be the ideal solution; she and the cast are hoping for a repeat of the recent run of warm and dry September weather.
“We have the advantage of not only an historic setting but also one outside where a cast of senior performers will feel safe.”
There will be 150 seats available for the two performances and tickets, at £10 each, will be on sale through the Bull Theatre in Barnet High Street.
As the play follows the weekend immediately after the medieval festival, which is Saturday and Sunday 11-12 September, the Players are hoping this will prove an added stimulus to ticket sales.
The backdrop for the stage was designed by Ms Dunne’s husband, Nick Godwin, who is a graphic designer and musician.
He usually composes for the Ska band the Silenzers but instead has turned his hand to the demands of the kind of medieval musical accompaniment that would suit his son’s debut performance for the Bull Players.
Ms Dunne produced the Players’ first-ever production, Love and War, which had its first performance at the Bull Theatre in 2018.