Posted on 16 January 2012

Best known to readers of best selling and critically acclaimed novel, Resistance, Welsh writer Owen Sheers is also an award winning poet and script writer.  His new play The Two Worlds of Charlie F about being wounded during military service will be on at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 22nd January 2012 for two performances only.

Here Owen Sheers tells London Theatre Direct about the project being performed by wounded soldiers from the Bravo 22 Company, which is under the artistic auspices of Trevor Nunn and Company Ambassador Ray Winstone.  The play is directed by Stephen Rayne, written by Owen Sheers and is produced for Masterclass by Alice Driver.

- How any why did you get involved with the Bravo 22 Company?

I was approached by Alice Driver, a producer for Masterclass at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. I'd just written THE PASSION, another piece which was drawn from the stories of individuals, so I think they thought I might be up for another unconventional project. Personally it did feel like a very natural step after THE PASSION, and I recognised that it was also a rare opportunity, in terms of access to servicemen and women who had had such direct experience of serving, being wounded and recovery.

- What is the play about?

The play follows an arc of shared experience around the subject of serving and being wounded, using individual stories to punctuate and illustrate that shared element. There is a main character, Charlie F., but also several other story lines we follow through to the conclusion. By its nature it's something of a portmanteau piece of theatre.

- Is there any particular story/soldier that you found inspiring?

They were all inspiring in their own ways - the generosity in terms of their openness was and continues to be extraordinary.

- What reaction are you hoping to get from the play by the audience?

At the moment I'm so close to the play, with only a week to go, to really be able to tell. I certainly hope to expose an audience to an authentic soldiers' eye view of the subject matter and, I guess, to come away from the theatre with a better understanding of what war and going to war really means.

- How the did the Theatre Royal Haymarket Master Class get involved and what do you think of the venue for this particular piece?

I think Alice Driver approached the Royal British Legion with the idea. The venue is amazing. A smaller stage than you'd think, and one which presents a certain number of challenges given that many of our cast are in wheelchairs, but it's the Theatre Royal Hyamarket! For the soldiers it's a dream come true to have the opportunity to perform there.

- Are you going to do any other plays in the future?

I certainly hope so, and I'm talking to the National Theatre Wales about some new projects now.

- What have you recently seen at the theatre in the West End?

I thought Jerusalem was fantastic - so good to see a contemporary play with its roots so confidently in English mythology and tradition as opposed to British. As a Welshman I really valued that recognition of England's often too-negelected heritage.

- What project are you working on now?

After this I'll be working on a long poem for Radio 4, then I'll be back to my next novel alongside my WRU work.

- Why did you choose to be the writer in residence at the Welsh Rugby Union and what did the experience involve?

Well, I was offered, and having been a life-long Welsh rugby fan there was no way I was going to turn it down! I also thought it was a very mature and exciting residency. As to what I will write out of it, let's see...

For those who don't know, The Passion, described by reviewers as the theatrical event of the year, took place last Easter in Port Talbot, Wales with script by Owen Sheers and starring Michael Sheen in a 3 day epic of town theatre that saw thousands watching and taking part in a 21st century take on the gospel story.  The play was filmed and is to be released later this year.  Resistance has also been adapted by Owen and was released in UK cinemas in November 2011.  If you missed it at the cinema get the DVD out in March!

Tickets still available for The Two Worlds of Charlie F at the Theatre Royal Haymarket box office directly.

[posted by Louise, 16/01/2012]