Veterans and Serving Soldiers bring Experiences to the Arts

For the past few years, the Army has had a presence at the Fringe under the name of Army@The Fringe when they have gained a reputation for bold, independently produced performance art.

This time round, like everyone else, they have adapted to circumstances with Army@TheVirtualFringewhere soldiers and veterans of recent conflicts, who are involved in the arts, bring their perspectives, expertise and insights of peace, war, discrimination, healing and military life.

The Army’s Head of Arts, Lieutenant Colonel Wendy Faux said, “There is a long and close relationship between the Army and the Arts. This year, Army@TheVirtualFringe is offering the arts community and the public the chance to share the knowledge, work and expertise of some phenomenally talented veterans and serving soldiers.

“They include people who make music for major international events and veterans whose life has been changed forever by conflict or have helped change attitudes to LGBTI+ rights. Others have brought their talents to bring the most powerful of human experiences to audiences – encouraging debate and understanding.”

Themes covered in Army@TheVirtualFringe workshops will extend to telling stories without text to the use of film and photography, the process of making shows in different contexts and theatre design for the Fringe.

The online Army@TheFringe, that is staged in association with Summerhall, sees the historic Hepburn House drill hall transformed into an Edinburgh Fringe venue hosting shows and exhibitions encouraging debate about life in and out of uniform.

The final programme has now been unveiled and offers more than 40 free films, live-from-home performances, workshops, rehearsed readings and discussions from 10-30 August.

Contributors come from all walks of life and include some with past or present military backgrounds. Among them are:

Román Baca: A classically trained ballet dancer who joined the US Marines and served in Iraq as a machine gunner and fire-team leader in Falluja.

Andee Birkett: An accomplished musician and singer, bass guitarist and double bass player, clarinettist and vocalist who toured with shows before joining the Army.

Harry Parker: Harry lost his legs in 2009 in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan.  He is now an artist and author.

Ben Mason: Director of Music for the Band of the Grenadier Guards has also composed for theatre and will discuss the using music to create atmosphere and evoke emotion.

Connor Deakin: A saxophonist and clarinettist who followed his sister in to the Army and is now a Lance Sergeant in the Band of the Grenadier Guards. 

James Wharton: Whose autobiography Out in the Armyis being turned in to a play and was the first openly gay member of the Army to feature on the front cover of Soldier magazine.

Rebecca Brown: The first female soldier to win Army Photographer of the Year.

Phil Spencer: Former Royal Marine and now a filmmaker.

Full details of the  programme are  available on the Army@TheFringe website.

Irene Brown

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