Serving soldiers and veterans of recent conflicts who are involved in the arts are bringing their experiences of peace, war, discrimination, healing and military life to Army@TheVirtualFringe.

A US marine turned ballet dancer, a musician who leads the Trooping of the Colour and a bass guitarist who used to tour with Toyah Wilcox are among the veterans and serving soldiers taking part in the virtual festival.

An exciting programme 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 Fallujah. He then co-founded Exit12 Dance Company, which tells veterans’ stories to increase cross-cultural understanding and heal divisions.
  • Andee Birkett: An accomplished musician and singer, bass guitarist, double bass player, clarinettist and vocalist who toured with shows and performers – including Toyah Willcox – before joining the army where she is a lance corporal in the Band of the Royal Welsh Guards.
  • Harry Parker: In 2009 Harry lost his legs in an IED explosion when serving in Afghanistan. He is now an artist and author – his first book Anatomy of a Soldier was widely acclaimed. Harry will talk about writing from lived experience.
  • Ben Mason: Director of Music of the Band of the Grenadier Guards. Captain Mason, who has also composed for theatre, will discuss using music to create atmosphere and evoke emotion.
  • Wendy Faux: Lieutenant Colonel Faux, the army’s head of arts, will discuss opportunities for performers to be part of Army@TheFringe in future years.
  • Connor Deakin: A saxophonist and clarinettist who followed his sister into the army and is now a lance sergeant in the Band of the Grenadier Guards.
  • James Wharton: Whose autobiography Out In The Army is being turned into a play for Army@TheFringe. James 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, now a filmmaker, looks at making short films.

To find out more and how you can get involved, head to www.armyatthefringe.org/virtual

All images courtesy of Army@TheFringe

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