The Children’s Crusade

Written by Paul Thompson; music by Robert Campbell; directed by Ursula Wright; music directed by Kay Warcaba

This powerful and disturbing play, based on events which took place in the year 1212, was first performed by the National Youth Theatre in 1973, with a young Daniel Day Lewis in the cast of over fifty. It tells the story of one of two Children’s Crusades which took place in that year, when thousands of children set off from France and Germany, to win back the True Cross (as they believed) from the city of Jerusalem. They set off full of hope, trust and idealism, convinced that they will succeed where the corrupt and bloody fourth Crusade had failed, but they are soon brought face to face with the political and economic realities of the adult world. Many die on the way, many desert, some seek work and material prosperity, others turn to crime, a number are sold into slavery by unscrupulous merchants and a few return home with Nicholas, bitter against the God who did not help them in their “just” cause. Their homecoming is more terrible than they could have imagined. The play raises contemporary questions about whether the end justifies the means, about the human cost of a “holy war” and about the lessons of history.

Download the programme (0.8 MB, PDF)

Download the flyer (0.4 MB, PDF)