Solider On A new play written and directed by Jonathan Guy Lewis
A new play written and directed by Jonathan Guy Lewis
Soldier On – a new stage play written by soldier turned actor turned writer and director Jonathan Guy Lewis will tour and have its London run during spring 2018.Currently about to enter rehearsals a passionate group of individuals, many of them army veterans, will bring to life through a combination of storytelling and dance, hard-hitting, poignant and close to their own hearts experiences.It’s their words that do the talking in what one veteran, filmmaker Neil Davies, has named, The Full Military Monty. This play, through its humour, warmth and searing honesty, will undoubtedly entertain it’s audiences and lay bare many shocking and sometimes heart-warming truths. Most importantly Soldier On will put every cast, crew and audience member in touch with some very real and often disturbing facts of life about the world we live in – specifically Britain in 2018.As Jonathan allows the story to unfold through the accounts of his characters here below are heartfelt words from the people who are making this special theatrical event happen….Their passion for Soldier On and the work of The Soldiers’ Arts Academy is palpable.What happens when a company of ex-soldiers becomes a company of actors? A theatrical band of brothers. Although it’s not a cure all, the bonding, the humour, the theatre of war helps to put them back together again – as a company of veterans and actors rehearse a play about a company of veterans and actors. Although worlds apart they begin to realize there are more similarities between military life and the theatre than they bargained for, building a powerful new world of their own. This is a heart warming story about surviving the forces and PTSD and what happens when you leave the military ‘family”.
Jonathan Lewis – Director/writer
Having been an Army Scholar, invalided out of the army and then playing Sgt Chris McCleod in two series of ITV’s Soldier, Soldier back in the ’90’s, I think it’s safe to say that the military and the themes that arise out of serving Queen & Country are never far away from me. And now more than ever we need to support the thousands of people who’ve served and returned – to validate and affirm them, in a world that seems to be turning upside down.
We now have much more of an understanding of the existence of PTSD than we ever did, so how do we get better at moving beyond knowing and acknowledging to creating opportunities for veterans to process these complex emotions in a positive and life enhancing way. I’ve written Soldier On for exactly this purpose – to create a piece of theatre that can sit alongside the other great creative work that is happening, that is both entertaining and cathartic for it’s actors and its audiences. The ancient world knew all about the horrors of war. After a battle was fought, traditionally, the survivors would make a big fire, stand around it and talk about their experience of the fight. They would create a shared narrative which helped to process the trauma and bring the warriors together. The modern warrior, even with support networks, often feels isolated and neglected, and on returning to the communities from whence they came there is a disconnect. No longer need. Surplus to requirements. Soldier On is my contribution to help warriors with the daily battles they face on their return.
Amanda Faber – Producer
I have been working with injured veterans and their local communities since 2012 to explore the ways in which the arts can facilitate transition and recovery for returning service personnel. Often PTSD can take years to surface and the impact it can have on the lives of the soldiers and their families is profound. Soldier On by Jonathan Lewis is a brilliant play – funny and honest and heart-warming. The cast includes veterans working alongside civilian actors and the plot revolves around a group of injured veterans putting on a play. The Soldiers’ Arts Academy is launching a seven-week national tour in Spring 2018 to raise awareness of the difficulties currently faced by around 66,000 veterans injured mentally and /or physically or those experiencing transitional difficulties. The tour will also bring the clear message to local communities that the arts can provide a viable alternative to sport as a recovery route. The tour will also announce a national initiative called “Art Force” which will aim to encourage veterans to build art hubs where they can get together with their local community as a chance to learn new skills, to recover and to transition back into the local community and into work. The tour will be accompanied by workshops for veterans and schools. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book or to find out more.
Cassidy Little – Ex Royal Marine turned actor/dancer
Like rehabilitation, the arts are always moving forward. New ideas compliment old ideas and fresh ideas revitalize dated concepts. I am so pleased to continue my recovery in a project like Soldier On, created by the Soldiers Arts academy, allowing me access and opportunity with actors, writers, creators, and like-minded people on a similar path of recovery.
Shaun Johnson – Army Veteran turned actor
‘Soldier On’ is an excellent opportunity for the audience to spend time in our REAL world. This play gives us a voice to highlight physical, mental or transitional difficulty challenges often faced when leaving the military.
The making of the play bonded our cast, formed trusting relationships and injected long lost confidence back into the soul. We invite you to come along and join in with us as we, laugh, cry, and dance together telling you our story.