One-act play, Citadel, is a piece of new writing about the day-to-day experiences of William, a former British serviceman and veteran of Afghanistan. William is tortured by memories of a fateful and life-changing day on patrol, as the play explores symptoms of combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a contemporary drama that focuses on friendship, grief and hope.
David Chriscole, writer of Citadel, served in the Army during the 1980's as a member of the Royal Pioneers, but never imagined his military background would have such an impact on his later life.
"The whole subject found me really" he explains "I'd enrolled in a playwriting course run by Studio Salford to learn more about how to write for the stage. I hit a problem with the story I was building, and was contemplating it during Remembrance weekend in 2016. As I thought about my own military life and the friends I'd left behind, I suddenly became aware of a solution for my play, and something I needed to express."
David's play aims to tackle the subject of PTSD in a different way than perhaps expected..."I've seen a great deal of independent [fringe] theatre over the last few years and depictions of mental health issues are commonly highly charged, traumatic and deeply emotional" he adds "I wanted to tell a story that was more about how the sufferer copes in the aftermath of the turmoil. How do they see the world they live in? How do they interact with people during their long recovery? How do others perceive the sufferer?"
It is subject close to David's heart; having suffered a mental health issue during 2014..."Although my own issue was very mild by comparison to PTSD, I recognise how all-encompassing a mental health problem can be. The isolation and loneliness coupled with confusion and fear is devastating. I realised that these elements were something I needed to express in my play."
Citadel is far removed from some of the unrealistic dramas that have featured on our screens recently. David uses his own first-hand experience and discussions with other ex-forces members to convey an honest dramatisation...
"It came about through a conversation of ideas with a former RAF veteran and talented film maker" he recalls "I imagined the sufferer being trapped; looking down on the society he has become isolated from, only wishing to re-join it. This notion led to 'a fortress that overlooks a city', and eventually to the name Citadel."
Citadel is an important piece of theatre that addresses issues that, although prominent, are often overlooked...
"Citadel means many things to me as the writer, and I believe it will mean many things to those that watch the show" he says "There will be distractions, diversions, red-herrings, misdirections, and, of course, a little bit of angst thrown in for good measure. But the message being conveyed is a simple one...To judge someone negatively because of your own fear of their mental health is the driver of division, isolation and loneliness.
"These are the very things that act to prevent sufferers from coming back from the darkness to re-join society" he explains "Compassion and understanding create safe spaces, giving them power over the monsters we cannot see, and helps them to heal. Become part of the solution, not the problem."
Tuesday 11th – Saturday 15th September 7:30pm
The Kings Arms
11 Bloom Street M3 6AN
Tickets £11 – to book click here
Contains strong language, mild physical violence, references to suicide and themes of war.
Andrew Bentley (Blake Crosby, Emmerdale, ITV)
Beth Hunter (Megan, Ackley Bridge Series 2, C4)
Corin Silva (How You Love Me, Unheard Theatre)
For further details see the Facebook event page for Citadel – click here
Words by Ian Leslie