Masked theatre will explore combat PTSD in Portsmouth

A Brave Face
A Brave Face

Vamos Theatre, the UK’s leading full-mask theatre company, is bringing its compelling production A Brave Face to New Theatre Royal on Thursday, April 4.

Spokewoman Rebecca Oldfield said: “A Brave Face is set in Afghanistan in 2009. Under bright blue skies, a small girl stands and watches the soldier. She smiles, just like his sister…

“Ryan is there to see the world, learn a trade, get a life. Training is complete, combat is a buzz; he’s part of a team and knows his job. But on one particular hot and desperate tour of duty, Ryan sees things he can’t talk about, to anyone. And then, when he returns home, the trouble really begins.

“Created from two years of research with ex and serving soldiers, families and health professionals, A Brave Face explores Post-Traumatic Stress, an unseen and often unrecognised injury of war, and the impact it can have on even the closest of families. With compassion and fearlessness, Vamos Theatre brings its trademark, wordless, full mask style to a story that needs to be told.

“Vamos Theatre has collaborated with Veterans, serving personnel, military families and health professionals in the making of A Brave Face, an honest and hugely compelling full-mask theatre production 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) 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 twelve- year history, previously tackling issues such as dementia and forced adoption.”

Artistic director Rachael Savage said: “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 NHS Tils, Combat Stress and many local charities, many of whom are leading the way in instigating new approaches to healing psychological injury.”

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