As the 16-strong company of Soldier On ready for a return with a much-deserved five-week transfer season at The Other Palace, here’s a word from writer/director Jonathan Lewis, who wrote the piece following workshops with real ex-servicemen and women. What did he learn about PTSD from those experiences? What else does history teach us? Scroll down to read – and then get booking!
Following a sell-out national tour and stint earlier this year at London’s Playground Theatre, Jonathan Lewis‘ Soldier On runs at The Other Palace from 24 October to 24 November 2018, with a post-show Q&A chaired by MyTheatreMates co-founder Terri Paddock on 29 October and a press night on 30 October.
With a company of 16 including injured veterans, the show explores what really happens when military personnel leave the army – through the journey of a group of soldiers who take up acting to help them recover from PTSD. It’s their words that do the talking in what has been deemed “The Full Military Monty”.
Putting the play’s premise into action, the cast includes serving and ex-service personnel working alongside other actors, in Amanda Faber’s award-winning theatre company The Soldiers’ Arts Academy cic. The veterans in the cast, many also returning, are: Cassidy Little (ex 42 Commando, Afghanistan and Peoples’ Strictly winner) who plays Woody; Hayley Thompson (ex Royal Army Medical Corps) is Trees; Max Hamilton-Mackenzie (ex Royal Green Jackets) is TC; Mike Prior (Army) is James/Cameron; Sarah Davis (Ex Army) is Tanya; Shaun Johnson(Royal Artillery, Northern Ireland) is Flaps; Steve Morgan (Army reserves) is Hoarse; and Drew Johnson (Army Air Corps) is the understudy.
They’re joined by professional actors: Bertie Portal (as Col Tom), David Soloman (Harry), Ellie Nunn (Sophie), Lizzie Mounter (Beth), Ex-Gladiator Mark Griffin (Rickshaw), Nicholas Clarke (Jacko/Donny), Rekha John-Cheriyan (Maggie), Tom Craig (Len) and Zoe Zak (Sal/Paula).
A word from the writer/director
Well known as an actor whose many screen and stage credits include Soldier Soldier, writer/director Jonathan Lewis’ playwriting credits include his 1991 hit Our Boys, based on his own experiences in a veterans’ hospital, which was revived in the West End in 2012; I Found My Horn; and A Level Playing Field.
Commenting on Soldier On and this new World War One centenary season at The Other Palace, he said:
“How do you write a play about PTSD which is funny?
How do you write a play about PTSD which isn’t patronising or worthy
How do you write a play about PTSD which tells it like it is?
“Soldier On is dedicated to all those who come home after war, but don’t really come back.
“And to all their loved ones and friends who know what it’s like to live with the thousand yard stare.
“And to the returning warriors that then make the decision they can’t or don’t want to go on.
“This November we will be remembering the end of The Great War a hundred years ago, and there will be many poignant and moving tributes to the fallen. It should then be time to focus on those who returned.
“And as we are about to send more of ‘Our Boys & Girls’ back into harm’s way in Afghanistan, we need to remember that PTSD can be a ticking timebomb. We know more about it now.
“But actually, the ancient world knew about PTSD. After the Greeks fought a battle, they would make a big fire and stand around it and tell the story of that battle, to create a shared narrative, because they knew that sharing that story had the power to help the survivors in the processing of their emotional trauma.
Soldier On runs from 25 October to 24 November 2018 at The Other Palace, 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA. Performances run Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced £24.50-£49.50. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!