A Brave Face

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Saturday May 12 2018

Vamos Theatre, the UK’s leading full mask theatre company, is bringing its new production A Brave Face to Eden Court on Monday 28 May at 7.30pm.

For over two years, Vamos Theatre has collaborated with Veterans, serving personnel, military families and health professionals in the making of A Brave Face, a full mask theatre production that will tour the UK and Europe in 2018.

The result is an honest and hugely compelling piece of theatre inspired by the hidden stories and personal journeys of those affected by, and connected with, Post Traumatic Stress in the military.

From the mud and mustard gas of World War One to the desert sands and IEDs of Afghanistan (where A Brave Face is set), the psychological effects of war have long been evident.

And whilst an understanding of the mental trauma now known as Post Traumatic Stress (PTS or PTSD) has progressed since the days when shell-shocked soldiers were categorised as ‘nervous’, support for Veterans living with PTS is still hugely under-resourced in the UK.

Working in a co-production with The Mercury Theatre, Colchester, Vamos Theatre aims to create a better understanding of PTS and, crucially, encourage coordinated support for those who live with it.

The company has based the production on the real-life experiences of those affected, a

technique for which they have gained a strong reputation over their ten-year history, previously tackling issues such as dementia and forced adoption.

Artistic Director Rachael Savage has been at the forefront of the research, which has seen her meeting not only Veterans, but their families, serving personnel, and organisations and professionals who support those living with PTS.

Rachael comments:

“We want A Brave Face to show honestly what PTS is and can mean to soldiers and to their families, who often find themselves on the frontline in coping with the condition: they deal with the trauma, as well as instability, social isolation, loneliness - often with no support.

“The input of those who have helped us make the show has been invaluable - at every stage their generosity continues to be extraordinary, particularly those for whom discussing PTS can be in itself traumatic.”

Consultants on the production include veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland, as well as organisations at the forefront of PTS support, such as Help for Heroes, Veterans First and the pioneering Recovery Centre, Chavasse VC House, many of whom are leading the way in instigating new approaches to healing psychological injury.

The production was initially inspired by journalist and author Matthew Green’s book Aftershock, which explores the first-hand experience of war trauma, and Matthew has also helped the company in their research.

A Brave Face is being documented by award-winning Guardian photojournalist

Kate Holt, who has worked extensively throughout Africa and Afghanistan for the last

15 years, and the show opened as part of London International Mime Festival in February 2018.

Full mask theatre is wordless, which may seem a tricky medium for addressing intensely emotional subjects like PTS, but as Rachael explains (in a 2017 article by The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner), “one of [mask theatre’s] greatest currencies is its ability to give voice to the unheard and the unspoken.”

Working without words creates a personal kind of communication in which difficult

issues can be more easily approached.

She promises that A Brave Face, whilst sometimes being raw, is also funny and always compassionate.

Whilst the show’s objective is to highlight how some people living with PTS are feeling failed by the system, it does so in a way that good theatre can – by showing the human story behind the labels and statistics, and the importance of creating hope.

 

Reviews:

If you’ve never seen full-mask theatre, there could be no better introduction than

Vamos – their ability to explore profound themes with the lightest of touches is magical...the

irresistible mix of humour and heartbreak makes them a must-see   HEREFORD TIMES

Vamos is rapidly establishing itself as one of the most innovative, exciting full-mask

mime companies currently touring    THE STAGE

 

Tickets for A Brave Face on Monday 28 May are available from Eden Court Box Office 01463 234234 or online at: www.eden-court.co.uk

 

 

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