Bravo 22 – Injured and Sick Service Personnel Perform

A collaborative project by Royal British Legion, Theatre Royal Haymarket, Masterclass Trust, Army Recovery Capability and Royal Navy Recovery Pathway have resulted in the formation of theatre company Bravo 22.

Bravo 22 is made up of injured and sick service personnel who have devised a new play The Two Worlds of Charlie F, based on their real life experiences. The aim of the project as anyone who has experienced the benefits of theatre whether it be with children, a minority or even majority group is to build confidence, self-awareness and introduce the members (of Bravo 22) to people in the theatre biz.

The Stage newspaper commented on the upcoming show where they interviewed The Two Worlds of Charlie F’s writer Owen Sheers who stated;

It has been incredible to see the change in them as individuals and as a company.”*

To me this comes across as a bit patronising and lacking context, I don’t believe this was the intention of Sheers but The Stage could have provided a more balanced story by also interviewing a member of Bravo 22. If an objective of the performance is to educate the audience on the experiences of these performers, surely we should be exposed to a quote or two from them.

When I first read of this project I thought it was an excellent idea. Many people with disabilities assert themselves as individuals within a community, aware of their rights and the need for a greater awareness regarding accessibility. A generalisation, but nevertheless this rings true for many friends and acquaintances with disabilities that I have encountered in person and through the wonders of social media. However, military men and women returning to the UK after an injury seem to come under a different branch of disability that can be forgotten about. How fantastic to use a powerful medium such as theatre to educate the public on the experiences of serving and how life can be dramatically different upon return.

But is this the case?…

The Stage do not offer any contribution from the members of Bravo 22. In addition, I find it interesting that the word disability is not used anywhere on the web to describe members of the company. One can speculate why, “disability” in our current world can be associated with terms such as pity, scroungers and incapable; is there fear of degrading our soldiers by the association of this word?

Whilst the proceeds from standard and gala tickets of these performances is a great way to raise money for the Masterclass trust and The Royal British Legion there are some issues with using the Theatre Royal Haymarket as a location. I would hope this performance attracts a wide audience including patrons with disabilities whether service personnel or not. However, access in and around the building especially for wheelchair users looks to be a bit of a nightmare, but not to worry, unless you want to/are able to transfer to an aisle seat, there is only one wheelchair place available at the back of the auditorium! I do understand that listed buildings such as theatres have a big and expensive job to make their venues wheelchair accessible but surely for this specific performance they could take out a row of seating at the front of the stalls to make their auditorium a bit friendlier.

Anyway, as usual, what intended to be an informative blog resulted in a rant. I wish Bravo 22 all the best for Sunday and hope to see more from them in the future.

Performances will be at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, this Sunday (22nd Jan 2012, it is 2012, please ignore the typo here) at 2:30pm and 6:30 pm.

Check out Bravo 22’s website here where you can book tickets, donate and find out more about the cast of The Two Worlds of Charlie F. You can also book through the Theatre Royal Haymarket website.

* Woolman, N. 2012. Wounded servicemen to tell their stories on stage. The Stage, January 12 2012, pg.3.

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