Conscientious Objectors’ Day play

Actor and playwright Michael Mears launches a video version of his play about world war one conscientious objectors

Michael Mears as Herbert Asquith in 'This Evil Thing'. | Photo: Courtesy of Michael Mears.

The actor and playwright Michael Mears has launched a video version of his play about world war one conscientious objectors (COs) to mark International Conscientious Objectors’ Day on 15 May.

The Wandsworth Meeting attender told the Friend that he decided to release the ‘home movie’ of his play This Evil Thing when his new play was cancelled at the Edinburgh Festival due to Covid-19. He said: ‘So, here I am, locked down at home in south west London, alone – and what to do? Well, COs were locked down against their will 100 years ago because of the “virus” it was feared they were spreading – the virus of pacifism and anti-militarism. So I decided to make a home movie version of This Evil Thing in six fifteen-minute chapters to be made available online… on and from 15 May, International COs Day. Using my iPhone and its excellent “movie” features, and using every available corner of my two-bedroom flat, I am very pleased with the results. I think this powerful story still comes across with great intensity.’

The actor will also read a testimony from a second world war CO for the online International COs day commemoration. The ceremony normally takes place in London’s Tavistock Square and will be hosted online by the Peace Pledge Union.

Niat Chefena Hailemariam, from the Network of Eritrean Women, will also speak at the gathering about military service in Eritrea, which is compulsory for both men and women.

The network War Resisters’ International (WRI) has proposed that this year’s focus is on Conscientious Objection and Asylum. ‘A lot of the present refugees have to leave their countries because of forced recruitment in countries that don’t recognise the right to conscientious objection,’ it said. The network has a YouTube channel and is calling for solidarity messages to release on the day and be shared with the hashtag #CODay2020.

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