The Arts and Military Themes/Issues

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    What can the arts offer us when it comes to exploring military themes and issues, and can the arts promote wider public understanding? What do you think? Recently there have been several plays touring the UK that focus on military/veteran-related subject matter…

    The Arcola Theatre in London has been showing Mike Bartlett’s play Not Talking The play is set in 2005 and is based around the military environment of that time. It raises some important issues that will be recognisable to military and veteran families.

    The company performing the play would like to start some discussions around the themes and topics that the play explores. They have given me the following questions as a starting point; ‘does military culture encourage people to talk about things that matter to them?’ and ‘do you think that, when in the military, it is safe to talk about personal issues?”.

    We are hoping that some members of the company will join us on the Hub, introduce themselves and begin some initial discussions…


    Hi Kris,

    This looks to be a really interesting discussion topic. I would be really interested to understand more about why people choose to attend certain theatrical productions? Whether they are a veteran? serving member of the Armed Forces? Family member? Interest in the subject?

    Look forward to the discussion 🙂


    Hi Michelle,

    Over the past year or so I have seen several theatre productions tackling themes and issues related to veterans/the military. I attend out of interest in the way theatre addresses what can be contentious or tough topics – I am curious as to how theatre can make audience members feel about these themes and issues and whether theatre can help to break down some of the societal stereotypes surrounding veterans/those serving.

    I suppose my interest in theatre for these reasons is not restricted to plays with a military theme, but any theatre production I might attend that tackles other potentially difficult topics. What makes the veteran/military-related plays I have seen different is that some theatre companies have recently involved veterans as cast members, which adds an interesting layer of interest to the discussion…

    What do you think?



    Jim McDermott
    Education & Training Expert
    Perception & Communication

    There would appear to be some therapeutic benefit to veterans playing roles in military-themed lays. Veterans are also very keen to point out inaccuracies in dress and equipment, sequences of events in re-lived situations and in particular, the way soldiers relate and speak to each other, especially at different rank levels. One veteran told me that only veterans can know what it is like to lose your mates, get shot out, blown up or damaged in any number of ways in combat situations. This remark would appear to dismiss most if not all the entire acting profession.

    At a more practical level, I am currently involved in early talks with people organizing therapy through arts and crafts and hope to get involved in reviving my cartoon workshops as a useful communication tool.

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