As British military casualties continue to return from the war in Afghanistan, Wounded – an emotional new play by Jenny Stephens – tells the stories of two soldiers, fighting a century apart, but both coping with the aftermath of war. Informed by research into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as military medical practice in modern conflicts and the First World War, this timely and heart-warming site-specific play takes place at the Territorial Army Field Hospital in Kings Heath, Birmingham from October 30th to November 10th.
Set in 1917 and 2012, Wounded follows the stories of Combat Medical Technician Kate Mulligan and Private Alfred Seddon. Nearly one hundred years after the Great War, Kate Mulligan is treated in the same military hospital that nursed injured soldiers during the First World War. Wracked with guilt that she caused her own injuries and the life-threatening injuries of another soldier who tried to save her, Kate begins to experience strange goings on. Perhaps it’s the shock, or maybe Kate really can see and hear Private Alfred Seddon. The two soldiers remember and revisit their experiences, allowing them to explore their trauma and help each other recover.
During her research for Wounded, writer Jenny Stephens became increasingly aware of the parallels between the plight of injured soldiers a century apart:
“Living in Birmingham we’re painfully aware of the trauma of war, particularly with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s role in the rehabilitation of soldiers who have been terribly injured in war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Stephens also began to understand the very personal stories behind the medical records:
“I became really interested in how individuals might cope with the trauma of combat in what are, supposedly, very different conflicts. But I soon realised that today’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is basically ‘shellshock’ by a different name. Thankfully sufferers are no longer shot as cowards, as they often were during the First World War. But the effects can still be devastating.”
But Wounded isn’t intended to be an issue-based play, insists Stephens: “I hope it’s an intriguing – and heart warming – story that brings together the lives of two soldiers a century apart. I suppose it’s really a ghost story and a meditation about feelings of guilt that people carry with them.”
The story is also informed by military medical practice, both now and during the First World War.
“As I researched, I realised that there is a terrible paradox between war and medicine, which the play explores – warfare is obviously a dreadful scourge, but it is also very often a time of great medical discovery and innovation.”
The cast for Wounded includes Daniel Anderson (Captain Jones), Ben Callon (Alfie Seddon), John Flitcroft (Jacko / Dr Carter), Emma Rollason (Kate Mulligan) and Maisie Turpie (Nurse Gertie Robinson / Rosie Seddon).
Wounded is supported by a Wellcome Trust Arts Award. It is directed by Steve Ball, Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre with design by Paul Burgess, lighting design by Simon Bond, Sound design by Matt Gray, Projection and video design by Adam Guy and music composed by Matthew Williams.
Following its premiere in Birmingham, Wounded will play for students at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.
The REP @ TA Centre, Dawberry Fields Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 6NY
Tuesday 30 October – Saturday 10 November
Performance Times: 1.30pm on 30, 31 October, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 November, 7.00pm on 1, 3, 7, 8, 10 November.
Tickets: £12 with concessions available
After Dark discussion: Thursday 8 November 7.00pm
BSL Interpreted Performance: Thursday 8 November, 7.00pm with Mary Connell.
Box Office: 0121 236 4455 Book Online: birmingham-rep.co.uk