Approved by ATG's PR & Communications Officer, David Bradbury
Bravo 22 Company, in association with The Royal British Legion, will launch a regional pilot programme at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, Buckinghamshire this month ahead of a national roll-out in 2015.
Bravo 22 Company was created by Alice Driver for the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust and launched in partnership with The Royal British Legion and the Defense Recovery Capability in 2011.
Alice’s initial idea was to provide the first theatre recovery project and unique work placement for serving wounded, injured and sick (WIS) military personnel within a theatre company. This was the first time that the MOD had allowed a theatre company access to their wounded soldiers and led to workshops and interviews with the WIS service personnel from the war in Afghanistan, which, in turn, led to a play being created through the partnership of The Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust, The Royal British Legion and Defence Recovery Capability, written by the award-winning poet and playwright Owen Sheers. As well as giving a voice to this sometimes forgotten or misunderstood community group it helped to boost confidence, self esteem and created a new military family for this dispersed group.
The play, The Two Worlds of Charlie F was performed on stage at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London’s West End for two sold-out performances and then enjoyed huge critical success on a UK tour when the company visited Aylesbury Waterside Theatre in March 2014.
Due to its impact at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre and the reaction of their audience to The Two Worlds of Charlie F, Bravo 22 Company made the decision to expand their work to give a voice to the Armed Forces community in Buckinghamshire with a new legacy project.
The programme announced today will be open to all wounded, injured and sick Service personnel based in the Buckinghamshire area and, in a difference from the original project, will include the Legion’s wider beneficiary community of veterans, reservists and family members (Over 18s).
This project is an opportunity for the Buckinghamshire Armed Forces Community to have their voice heard, to talk about life in the Armed Forces in the Buckinghamshire Community. For civilians this unique play will promote understanding and awareness and ultimately aims to bring together the civilian and Armed Forces community.
Members of the company will be brought together to participate directly in the creation, production and performance of a play giving them direct insight into the theatre industry and helping to improve self-awareness, confidence and motivation to support their individual recovery, and in particular help those who are transitioning into civilian life. It will give them an opportunity to experience a wide range of different employment opportunities and allow this community group to tell their stories, and for the civilian Buckinghamshire community to gain awareness and understanding. It will be directed by The Two Worlds of Charlie F director, Stephen Rayne and Owen Sheers will be part of the team.
Alice Driver said ‘Through Bravo 22 Company this exciting new project will give a voice to the Armed Forces Family in the Buckinghamshire community and support them in their transition into civilian life. We can’t wait to start working on the project’.
The project has been funded through Buckinghamshire’s Armed Forces Community Covenant and match funded by The Royal British Legion.
It will be run by The Royal British Legion who will work with key partners including LAMDA, who will be providing technical support and training for members of the armed forces community who have an interest in pursuing a career within sound, lighting or stage management Other partners include the Ministry of Defence, local theatres, councils, veteran groups, local businesses and schools.
Zahir Mohammed, Chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council and the county’s Armed Forces Champion said ‘This is another great example of how the Buckinghamshire Armed Forces Community Covenant is bringing together our military and civilian communities. I am delighted we’ve been a catalyst for making this production possible’
Carol Smith, Assistant Director of Operations, The Royal British Legion said: ‘The success of The Two Worlds of Charlie F confirmed that there is a place for theatre in the recovery process of wounded injured and sick Service personnel. The Legion is relishing the opportunity to take the Bravo 22 Company concept into local communities and expand the offering to the wider Armed Forces family through this first Buckinghamshire focussed project.’
Elizabeth Adlington Area Theatre Manager at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre said ‘We couldn’t be more delighted to be working in association with Bravo 22 Company on such an exciting project. We are proud to be able to provide a platform for such an important and unique company to move forward with their next venture and to bring this to the heart of the military and wider community of Buckinghamshire. Our partnership will enable this community to develop and tell its own story’
Rob Young Head of Technical Training at LAMDA said ‘We are excited to be working as training partners on such an inspirational initiative. Our aim is to equip participants with theory, practical knowledge and work experience at a professional level for them to be able to effectively and usefully work as part of the Bravo 22 Company to deliver the production and open up opportunities for them to pursue a career in technical theatre’
Darren Swift, Bravo 22 Company Mentor, Wounded soldier, The Two Worlds of Charlie F mentor said ‘I am pleased to hear that Buckinghamshire is going to be doing this project. I was born in Buckinghamshire and love the place. I served in the Army for 10 years and travelled all over the world. Whilst in Northern Ireland two IRA terrorists dropped a coffee jar bomb on me. I lost both my legs along with various other injuries. I now work as a mentor to other wounded soldiers and have been an actor with Bravo 22 Company. It is a great thing to be a part of. Come and get involved and I look forward to meeting you soon.’
Ultimately the play will be performed at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre in March 2015. Workshops, story gathering and rehearsals will commence in December. There are a wide range of opportunities available for individuals who are only able to give their story or for those who want to be involved for the full project.
To find out more about how you could get involved in the Bravo 22 Company Legacy project as an individual, a school, a business or a member of the public just visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury