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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 20, 2018

Performance of ‘This Evil Thing’ in Kalona

The story of objectors to WWI performed by acclaimed actor Michael Mears
Apr 09, 2018

Just Peace Outreach Group (J-POG) and Iowa Mennonite School are pleased to host This Evil Thing on Sunday, April 15, at 7 p.m. at Iowa Mennonite School. This program is presented in cooperation with The Center on Conscience and War.

This Evil Thing, written by Michael Mears, is the compelling story of conscientious objectors to World War I in Great Britain and the people who supported them. Mears skillfully performs his play, portraying a gallery of characters from conscientious objectors to army generals, from prime ministers to world-famous mathematicians.

This Evil Thing has been described as a highly original piece of storytelling. Mears uses verbatim testimonies while interacting with an intricate soundscape. This drama involves a journey from a chapel in Yorkshire to the House of Commons; from an English country garden to a quarry in Aberdeen; from a cell in Richmond Castle to a firing squad in France.

Mears believes he inherited a ‘pacifist gene’ — but he’s not sure where from. Both his father and grandfather fought in world wars. The Evil Thing explores the courage it took to be a pacifist in Great Britain 100 years ago. Mears follows two men in particular: schoolteacher and Methodist preacher Bert Brocklesby and philosopher Bertrand Russel. The onset of military conscription in 1916, shakes their lives.

Military conscription still is used in many countries today. Prisoners of conscience still suffer incarceration. Nations still rely on violence to solve problems. The questions raised by This Evil Thing are relevant and urgent.

Mears has written and performed five specially commissioned solo plays for BBC Radio. Onstage, he has performed for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Peter Hall Company and in London’s West End. At its world premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016.

This Evil Thing received four-star reviews and acclaim from audiences and press: ‘A moving and dynamic retelling of a hidden story’ (The List) — ‘An inspirational and disturbing work’ (Festmag) — ‘Magnificent storytelling’ (Amnesty International).

A Q&A will follow the performance. A freewill offering will be taken. Join J-POG and Iowa Mennonite School at 421 540th St. SW, Kalona, in welcoming Mears on April 15. For more information contact J-POG via Roger Farmer at 319-653-2547 or Jane Yoder-Short at wilmajane17@gmail.com.

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