Journey’s End. R.C. Sherriff. Robert Cedric Sherriff. Born 1896 – Surrey Wounded in 1917 during WW1 in France He wrote 6 earlier plays that were not successful ‘Journey’s End’ was his 7 th play and was first performed in 1928
Born 1896 – Surrey
Wounded in 1917 during WW1 in France
He wrote 6 earlier plays that were not successful
‘Journey’s End’ was his 7th play and was first performed in 1928
Sherriff died in 1975 – this play is considered his greatest achievement
Form & Structure
Lighting & sound
Analysing a Play
The play was originally going to be called ‘Suspense’ or ‘Waiting’
Why do you think Sherriff settled on ‘Journey’s End’ ?
Written in the late 1920’s
Most audience members at this time went to the theatre to escape their lives
After the war the class system was undergoing massive change – commercially successful plays had to appeal to the masses
An all-male play about war was an unexpected success
Winston Churchill was a fan of the play and invited Sherriff to Downing Street to discuss it
It would be a good idea to take a look at some of the following to strengthen your understanding of WW1 and the experiences of those who experienced trench warfare:
The war poetry of Owen & Sassoon
Set in St Quentin, France 1918
Starts Monday 18th March
3 days later Germany launched ‘Operation Michael’
Historically accurate rather than ‘anti war’
Life in the trenches
The audience of the day would remember the experience first hand
The setting is naturally suited to the stage
Warren-like nature of dugouts
Cramped close conditions
Hardships – exposed to elements
Camaraderie of shared experience
Single staging with ‘off stage’ locations inferred
The play explores the psychological effect of war on different kinds of personalities
Young German Soldier
Highest ranking officer
Commanding Officer of different Company
Commanding Officer of C Company
Cook & Servant
Unseen – Raleigh’s sister & Stanhope’s sweetheart
Young German Soldier
Stanhope’s second in command, Osborne enters the dugout to take over from Hardy, the captain of the leaving company. Hardy talks about Stanhope as a drunkard and Osborne defends him.
A new officer, Raleigh arrives and we find out about his links with Stanhope.
Stanhope arrives, calls for whiskey and reacts strangely to Raleigh. Hibbert, another officer, complains of neuralgia.
Stanhope tells Osborne about his contempt for Hibbert and concern over Raleigh’s presence. He decides to censor Raleigh’s letters.
The men talk about life away from war. We find out that Osborne played rugby for England. Osborne and Stanhope discuss the forthcoming attack. It is expected on Thursday – in 2 days time.
Raleigh enters and Stanhope insists on reading his letter home. The letter is read out and we see that it is full of praise for Stanhope.
The colonel arrives with news of a raid on the German line that needs to take place the following day. He suggests Osborne and Raleigh should take part in the raid.
Hibbert tries to leave but Stanhope threatens to shoot him and then sympathises with him. Hibbert is persuaded to stay and help the others.
The officers are told about the raid. Osborne is resigned to his fate, Raleigh is elated and Trotter thinks it is stupid timing.
The colonel gives an encouraging talk to the men, promising that Osborne and Raleigh will be awarded a Military Cross for bravery. The raid takes place and Osborne and 6 others die, but a German soldier is taken prisoner.
The German prisoner is interrogated and the colonel seems happy but Raleigh is stunned by his experience and Stanhope is bitter.
All the officers eat a celebratory dinner, but Raleigh does not join in. Stanhope sends Hibbert to bed. Trotter is made second in command. When Raleigh appears, he and Stanhope argue.
The final German attack comes. Raleigh dies as Stanhope looks after him. Just after Stanhope leaves the stage, the dugout collapses into darkness.
Examiners award candidates who are able to comment on how any specific scene or moment is linked to the rest of the play
The obsession with food and public schoolboy conversation is at odds with the horrors of the trenches and can therefore be amusing.
It also makes a point that mental diversions were a survival strategy for the men in war.