The Sweethearts marked the first anniversary of the departure of British Troops from Afghanistan after a thirteen year campaign and the deaths of 453 British service personnel.
Alongside our co-production of The Sweethearts, Raise Dark Theatre Company ran Battle Lines, a new writing programme that aimed to give a platform to individuals from the armed forces and, more broadly, give a voice to a war that has been largely under-represented in the arts.
Four ex service personnel with little to no involvement with the arts took part in the programme. Through a series of workshops with professional writers the participants were given the opportunity to find their own voice as a writer in a friendly, supportive environment and write a short play to be shared at the Finborough Theatre alongside a performance of The Sweethearts.
The four Battle Lines participants were paired with professional playwrights Miran Hadzic and Sarah Hamilton who mentored them throughout the process and wrote their own plays inspired by the War in Afghanistan.
Thanks to the support of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Arts Grants Scheme the programme was completely free for the individuals taking part.
Sally Davis - works as an analyst for the Ministry of Defence. She was involved with backroom analysis/support during the Afghanistan campaign.
Rob Richier - a recently retired Warrant Officer of 35 years service who served as Sgt. Major in both Afghanistan and Iraq and has also served in Northern Ireland. He had Regular and Territorial Army experience, serving in the Royal Engineers, Royal Green Jackets and the Royal Logistic Corp. He now runs his local pub in Walthamstow, East London called the Warrant Officer.
Andy McCabe - a Seaman Radar Operator in the Royal Navy serving in the Adriatic in 1992/93. He has been a member of the Combat Veteran Players for the last five years learning and performing Shakespeare. He now goes into schools as a member of Shakespeare's Soldiers delivering performance/text workshops to GCSE students and will soon be engaging in a new programme to assist children in learning to read.
Nicola De Maine - an officer in the Royal Navy from 2003 to 2011. She has a first class honours degree in psychology from The Open University that she completed whilst serving in the military.
Workshop Facilitators & Rehearsed Reading Cast & Creative Team
Battle Lines Programme Leader: Sarah Page
Mentors: Miran Hadzic & Sarah Tejal Hamilton
Director: Kevin Williams
Stage Manager: Charlottle Walton
Performers: Louise Beresford, Robert Bradley, Matthew Hebden, Mark Knightley, Nadia Nadif, Graham O'Mara, Kyle Ross, Joel Samuels & Daniel Tyrone Ward.