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military and ex-military personnel which has

provided the inspiration for Vamos Theatre’s latest

show, A Brave Face, which has just started a tour

of the UK and Germany and which comes to the

Lichfield Garrick on March 30, one of several dates

in the Midlands.

A Brave Face tells the story of young soldier Ryan. 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.

Vamos Theatre was set up by Rachael in 2006

as a full mask theatre company, meaning their

shows include no dialogue and the actors’ faces are

completely covered by masks. Based in Worcester, the

company tours all over the world playing at a huge

range of venues, from major theatres to care homes

and hospital wards, depending on the subject matter

of the show at hand.

“We tell stories that need to be told, and we tell

stories about people who often don’t have a voice - so

we give them a voice,” explains Rachael.

“I always have a really close emotional attachment to

the subject matter we make shows about, because it’s

got to be something I care about.”

Other Vamos shows have focused on topics including

dementia and forced adoption in the 1960s, while the

next show tackles end-of-life care. But it is A Brave

Face which is currently the centre of Rachael’s focus.

“This show I went on a real journey with, because

I didn’t think I cared about the military and I

didn’t think I was interested in the military; it’s not

something that us civilians tend to get caught up in,”

explains Rachael.

But, as it turns out, it was a subject matter

that Rachael did care about. Hugely.

“It wasn’t until I started doing the research

that I became more and more involved, and I

thought it was such an important story which

needed to be told,” she explains.

“It started with Danny Fitzsimons, a former

soldier whose parents found him hiding in a

wheelie bin in the early hours of the morning.

That just made me ask questions; why did

he think the safest place for him to be was

in a wheelie bin, and how would that make

parents feel, to find their boy like that?”

Rachael’s research led her to journalist

Matthew Green’s book, Aftershock, which

documents the stories of British military veterans

and their families seeking new ways to heal from

the trauma of war. Over the last two decades, the

UK has sent thousands of people to fight on our

behalf. But what happens when these soldiers come

back home, having lost their friends and killed their

enemies, having seen and done things that have no

place in civilian life?

“The story turned to a young man called Aron Black,

who tragically took his own life after witnessing the

death of his best mate,” says Rachael.






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