Military veterans on stage in Sheffield in hard-hitting drama Soldier On to celebrate Invictus Trials
Arts events taking place alongside the Invictus UK Trials in Sheffield include Soldier On, a play about the real hardships of army life, with a cast featuring injured veterans.
The critically-acclaimed play, written and directed by Jonathan Lewis, will form the centrepiece of an inspiring programme of creativity on offer alongside the Invictus UK Trials for the first time.
This July, the Invictus UK Trials will add a new pioneering arts element into the mix on offer via The Soldiers’ Arts Academy, a platform for serving and veteran military personnel to recover, retrain and to access new work.
Through a series of workshops, exhibitions, talks and performances this new initiative will demonstrate how those leaving the armed forces can find inspiration and security in the arts and creative industries.
The play is inspired by true stories which Lewis, author of the multi-award-winning West End hit Our Boy, workshopped with servicemen and women and their families over five years.
A passionate cast, many of them army and Royal Marine veterans, bring their own experiences to life through a mix of storytelling, music, dance and mixed media that is hard-hitting, poignant and close to their own hearts.
With a cast including injured veterans, the show explores what really happens when military personnel leave the army, through the journey of a group of soldiers and their family members who take up acting to recover from PTSD.
It's their words that do the talking in what one veteran, filmmaker Neil Davies, has named “The Full Military Monty”.
Jonathan Lewis said: “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.”
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Jonathan was an Army Scholar who was invalided out of the forces in 1986.
He went on to drama school and subsequently played Sgt Chris McLeod in ITV’s Soldier, Soldier for two series in the 1990s.
Soldier On is produced by Amanda Faber and the Soldiers’ Arts Academy, a platform through which serving and ex-serving military personal and their families can participate in the creative and performing arts.
On Wednesday at 10am there is a theatre workshop with Jonathan and cast members.
Other events taking place in the City Hall include War Horse, Private Peaceful and the Butterfly Lion author Michael Morpurgo in conversation with TV presenter and Paralympian Ade Adepitan.
They appear on July 24 to talk about Michael’s life and work and about writing about war and its consequences.
There is also a photography exhibition with work by Amanda Searle, Rupert Frere and Wendy Faux.
On Friday, July 26, dance choreography workshop Movement to Contact will involve veterans and civilians.
Over at the FlyDSA Arena, the Big Gig on July 22 stars singer Alfie Boe, singer-songwriter JP Cooper, classical artist Laura Wright, pop singer Heather Small, Suggs from Madness and Game of Thrones actor Charles Dance.