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Tag Archive | "Cassidy Little"

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The Two Worlds of Charlie F: a theatre recovery project

Posted on 13 August 2012 by Veronica Aloess

The Two Worlds of Charlie F left me in two minds about theatre as we know it. As audience members, we’re usually safely sat behind the fourth wall; but the slogan for this show is “first they lived it, now they’re performing it”. Although the subject matter of the show is far from our everyday experiences, it feels extremely real to watch because it’s performed by a cast featuring armed forces personnel whose personal experiences were adapted for the script by writer Owen Sheers. This project was created by the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass and funded by The Royal British Legion as a theatre recovery project for wounded, injured and sick (WIS) armed services personnel. Following a rapturous response from audiences, The Two Worlds of Charlie F has leapt from two performances at the Theatre Royal Haymarket to a UK tour.

Whilst audiences may find the play extremely emotional, for the actors the focus lay upon the play as a rehabilitation project. Cassidy Little, who plays the title character in The Two Worlds of Charlie F, shares the journey he has undergone as a result of this show.

“It’s not like an isolated situation; it kind of worm wooded its way into my life. Almost a year I’ve been involved in this project now and it’s just kind of spread into all aspects of my life, so in actual fact my whole life has changed as a result of this project. It’s not a case of me taking something away from it and going, you know, ‘I’m glad I learned how to massage small animals’, it’s much more like ‘wow, look at the person I’ve become as a result of the experiences I’ve had.’ ”

Cassidy “went to university and studied a lot of dance and movement – that was my major – but I never did professional theatre. I joined community theatre and stuff like that and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I kind of gave it all up,” so the performance aspect was never going to be an entirely new challenge. But why did Cassidy decide to specifically take part in this project? “I needed a healthy distraction. If you spend all your time focusing on rehabilitation then you’re just going to drive yourself insane. The process of learning how to walk again, learning how to live again, learning how to get into routines again is extremely frustrating. I think there’s no coincidence that when we learn to walk for the first time we don’t remember it. So to have to go through all that again, if you focus specifically on it, you’ll drive yourself insane. You need to find something that you can treat as a distraction. And some people pick video games, some people pick movies, some people pick drinking; there’s all kinds of unhealthy distractions out there. So a healthy distraction – one that you can focus on, that is positive – that’s what this project became. I just thought screw it, I’ll just focus on this and see what happens. So I’ve learnt to walk again without even thinking about it.”

Obviously this is a very personal project for the service personnel involved and through this performance Cassidy came to a point where “anything that would have been emotional a year and a half ago is far less emotional. We’ve spent so much time talking about the experiences that it’s much easier to come to grips with what you’re doing and what happens.” Masterclass’ project has utilised drama as a form of therapy; by coming to terms with their experiences they have found themselves more able to cope with them. “You’re taking amateurs, throwing them onstage, and getting them to tell their own stories, so really it’s as close to reality theatre as you’re gonna get.”

There comes a point in the play when a member of the cast describes how phrases like “I understand” are sometimes said without any real understanding of what these WIS service personnel are going through. Cassidy describes The Two Worlds of Charlie F as “a great educational piece, as fictitious as it is. It has to be stressed how fictitious it is – obviously the experiences aren’t word for word because that would be highly inappropriate, but they’re very close. The show itself is a kind of snapshot of what it’s like to walk in the shoes of Charlie F and the other characters that are in that show, so it gives incredible insight into the frustrations of before, during and after.” As a result, Cassidy believes that this show does bring people closer to understanding experiences like those illustrated in the show. “There isn’t a political motivation behind the show. If anything, it’s about awareness and not necessarily about changing anything.”

But The Two Worlds of Charlie F doesn’t just create awareness; it leaves a powerful impression upon you because Bravo 22 Company is so inspiring. Cassidy was ballsy enough to join the Marines for a bet. After winning a previous wager that he couldn’t quit smoking, he was encouraged to get into shape. “Somebody said it’s better to be a failure than it is to be a quitter, because a quitter means you gave up, whereas a failure means you gave it your best. So I picked the hardest option which was the Royal Marines, and next thing you know I fell in love with it.”

There’s something about Cassidy Little in and out of the show that makes you smile, and I defy anyone to not give the cast of The Two Worlds of Charlie F a standing ovation, because this play goes beyond the theatre. It’s about self-belief, it’s a recovery programme for WIS service personnel, and gives this group of brave men and women a voice. This interview with Cassidy Little was an absolutely inspiring and eye-opening experience for me, and the show even more so.

The Two Worlds of Charlie F was at The Pleasance Grand, Edinburgh until 11 August, and returns to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for two shows on 9 September. For tickets and more information, visit www.bravo22company.com.

The original performance of the show can now be viewed online at www.thespace.org.

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Veronica Aloess

Veronica Aloess

Veronica Aloess is an aspiring arts journalist and playwright, who trained at Arts Educational School London and is currently studying towards a BA in English with Creative Writing at Brunel University. She is co-founder of Don't Make Me Angry Productions which is dedicated to original writing and innovative performance.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: The Two Worlds of Charlie F

Posted on 12 August 2012 by Veronica Aloess

I find this a very difficult play to review. All plays have something which ties them to reality, however far they seem from it. But The Two Worlds of Charlie F is as close to reality theatre as you can possibly get; a story adapted from the real experiences of wounded, injured and sick service personnel by Owen Sheers, but performed by the people that lived through it in Bravo 22 Company.

Although these stories are fictionalised from real life experiences, there is still very little suspension of disbelief for the audience knowing the origins lay in the brave men and women you’re watching. This show follows Charlie F (Cassidy Little) and other characters’ journey from war to rehabilitation, mirroring the cast members’ journey. The Two Worlds of Charlie F is a theatre recovery project created by the Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust and funded by the Royal British Legion. It’s an unforgettably eye-opening experience to know that you’re watching so much more than a play.

Bravo 22 Company are extremely talented to have gone from little to no acting experience, to a play of this scale. And every cast member is wholly convincing, and don’t miss a note or a beat. They hold the audience in the palm of their hands, with the ability to make them cry one minute and laugh the next. Sheers’ script is respectful and well balanced; also incorporating dance, song and film into the production. Lily Phillip’s choreography is elegant and moving; there’s a stunning scene where the actresses dance with the men that use wheelchairs, seeming to act as their legs as well as expressing both the intimacy and yet distance between the couples during rehabilitation. Equally, Maurilla Simpson emotionally invests so deeply into her song which opens the show on an honest, liberating tone, which the show retains.

Stephen Rayne’s direction is flawless. The Two Worlds of Charlie F is everything a play should be and more. Although the scenes consider different journeys, the progression makes sense and we always return to Charlie F (Little is a charismatic, confident lead – ideal in his role). Simpson’s story as Simi Yeats about her family and why she joined the army is endearing, and captures the positivity and bravery present in all the characters, making them such a joy to watch.

At times the show is explosive, at times it’s heart breaking and at times it’s light hearted. Jason Carr’s composition is an excellent score to carry the audience through a roller coaster of emotions experienced in this truly moving play. Because it’s such a polished production in every respect there is something filmic about The Two Worlds of Charlie F, which captures its audience. Together Sheers and Rayne exemplify raw storytelling at its best; by creating an inspirational story from a very real place, Bravo 22 Company achieve something they should be proud of, and remind the audience why they should be proud of them. This is theatre which stays with you long after you leave.

***** – 5/5 stars

The Two Worlds of Charlie F played at the Pleasance Courtyard as a part of the Edinburgh Festival. It will return to the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 9 September for two performances.

Veronica Aloess

Veronica Aloess

Veronica Aloess is an aspiring arts journalist and playwright, who trained at Arts Educational School London and is currently studying towards a BA in English with Creative Writing at Brunel University. She is co-founder of Don't Make Me Angry Productions which is dedicated to original writing and innovative performance.

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