The show was made from embedded research Rosie Kay spent with The 4th Battalion The Rifles, Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court and the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Selly Oak during the period 2008-2010. Rosie undertook battle training exercises in pre-deployment conditions with the infantry, and spent time shadowing clinicians, physiotherapists and therapists involved in the rehabilitation of injured soldiers.
In 2015 we conducted research with veterans, soldiers and officer and these are some of their quotes;
“I thought it was amazing, absolutely amazing, and very helpful. I could see what was going on; I could see what was being portrayed and what was going on and everything.”—Veteran
“The show was a little bit like doing six months in one hour.”—Serving Commanding Officer
“for me it’s like right okay, I get that and I appreciate the fact that you’ve made it real for me. If you had made it silly I would have walked after ten minutes.“—Veteran
Civilian audience talk of the show bringing them a new awareness of the job and physical demands of soldiering;
“I found it incredibly moving (almost to the point of tears); the portrayal of soldiers who, despite their courage, their training, their strength of purpose and their undoubted physical strength, are human beings who can suffer.”—Audience Member
Description of the show
The composer of 5 Soldiers, Annie Mahtani, spent time in military facilities and in the field making sound recordings of atmospheres, weapons and explosions. She then created a deeply atmospheric soundscore. Within the sound score are tracks of music, including The Clash, Katy Perry (Firework), and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. In scene in Part Three ‘Contact wait Out’ we hear the sound of gunfire, but the sound has been manipulated to be just a whisper- the hiss of fire rather than the thud. This scene builds in intensity, with the sounds of Chinooks and background vibrations, until we reach a scene of an IED attack- the seconds of the attack lengthened to be 2 minutes long. At the moment of impact, the sound sucks in and is actually an implosion rather than an explosion, there then follows a high pitched squeal into silence.
Graphic Description of injury
There are no depictions of death in 5 Soldiers. After the explosion scene, we see the solider shake on the ground and then the other soldiers come to his aid, with the medic in charge. They appear to tourniquet his legs and then carry him to the corner, his legs are visibly strapped. Here we feel a change of scene (lighting change and music) and the soldier begins to try to walk on his ‘stumpy’s’ – he has suffered a double amputation of the lower legs and is re-learning how to walk again. He rejects any more help and then fights and then dances- his battle has shifted and he fights to regain his balance and his new identity.
Scenes of a sexual nature
The middle part of the show is entitled ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ and is the soldiers in off duty/boredom/ mucking about mode. The male soldiers appear to go out together drinking, at a nightclub, dancing and fighting to Katy Perry’s Firework. Then we reveal the female soldier in the corner, in her sports gear and having some private time. The scene is ambiguous- is she a girl from their fantasies? Are they seeing a club dancer? Is it the female soldier stretching out? They follow her, and then it builds in energy and sexual tension until they chase after her- she turns and confronts them with a scream, they back off immediately, filled with shame. They then lift her and worship her as goddess, symbol of queen and country. There are also a couple of duet scenes- between the female and an intense scene of trust and support between two young males.
The age range for the show is 12 years + (contains scenes of violence)