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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Canadian premiere of The Two Worlds of Charlie F at the Princess of Wales Theatre

Direct from London's West End
by Owen Sheers
Starring Wounded, Injured and Sick Ex-Service Personnel
Canadian CASSIDY LITTLE Plays the Title Character
February 25 - March 9, 2014

In January 2012, something remarkable happened at the prestigious Theatre Royal Haymarket in London, UK. 

After lengthy workshops with over 30 medically discharged military personnel and a professional playwright and director, a new play entitled THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F was unveiled at two fund-raising evenings.

The audience, which was comprised of many of the UK’s leading actors, theatre practitioners and seasoned theatergoers, was astonished to witness such a powerful and unforgettable examination of the cost of war.  

The response was so great that the show was taken to the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it too received standing ovations, five-star reviews, full houses and was awarded the festival’s coveted Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression.

Now, to allow a larger audience to see this unique production and to mark the upcoming anniversary of the start of World War 1, the first modern global war, THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F is launching an extensive tour which kicks off with the play’s North American premiere in Toronto, February 25 - March 9, 2014 as part of the new Off-Mirvish Subscription series at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F is a soldier’s view of service, injury and recovery.  Moving from the war in Afghanistan, through the dream world of morphine-induced hallucinations to the physio rooms of Headley Court, the play explores the consequences of injury, both physical and psychological, and its effects on others as the soldiers fight to win the new battle for survival at home.  The play is a very personal and very moving look at the effects of war on individual combatants, but it also has a huge amount of humour and humanity.

THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F was the idea of Alice Driver, the then Masterclass Creative Producer and now the Executive Producer of this new tour.  Her initial idea was to provide a unique work placement for serving wounded, injured and sick (WIS) military personnel within a theatre company.

This was the first time that the British Ministry of Defence had allowed a theatre company access to their wounded soldiers and led to workshops and interviews with the WIS service personnel from the war in Afghanistan, which, in turn, led to a play written by the award-winning poet and playwright Owen Sheers, being created through the partnership of The Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass, The Royal British Legion and Defence Recovery Capability.

The production was directed by Stephen Rayne with the support of patron Trevor Nunn.  The other two patrons were Ray Winstone, the project ambassador, and recently retired General Sir David Richards, Chief of Defence Staff. 

A TV documentary commissioned by Alan Yentob and made by UpperCut Films looked at the process of creating and staging THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F.  Called Theatre of War, it was first shown on BBC1’s Imagine… and was nominated for The Grierson Documentary Awards.

Writer Owen Sheers is the author of two collections of poetry, The Blue Book and Skirrid Hill, a work of narrative non-fiction about Zimbabwe, The Dust Diaries, a novel, Resistance, and a novella, White Ravens.  In 2011, he wrote the script for the National Theatre of Wales’s The Passion, directed by and starring Michael Sheen.  His verse drama Pink Mist, commissioned by BBC Radio 4, was published by Faber and won the Hay Medal for Poetry 2013.

The cast includes ex-servicemen and women Bombadier (Rtd) Gareth Crabbe, Rifleman (Rtd) Daniel Shaw, Marine Cassidy Little and Lieutenant Col (Rtd) Stewart Hill, with Stephen Shaw, Maurilla Simpson, Darren Swift, Ashliegh Young, Terri Ann Bobb-Baxter, Tom Colley, Miriam Cooper, Tomos Eames, Venetia Maitland, Owen Oldroyd, and Lily Phillips.

Of particular interest to Canadians, Marine Cassidy Little, who plays the title role of Marine Charlie Fowler, was born in Newfoundland and studied performance art and ballet.  He then did stand-up comedy in Britain before joining the Marines (as the result of a bet).  Cassidy lost his right leg in his second tour of Afghanistan.

THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F is directed once again by Stephen Rayne, with music by Jason Carr, design by Anthony Lamble, lighting and projection design by Will Reynolds, sound by Colin Pink and choreography by Lilly Phillips.

A new production company, The Charlie F Project (UK) Ltd, has been created by Garry McQuinn and Amanda Faber to produce this new tour.  Garry’s producing credits include the international hit shows Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake and Tap Dogs.  Amanda is a film and television producer, who produced the feature film of Owen Sheers’s award-winning novel Resistance.

For the Canadian Premiere, we are proud to be partnering with Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services to increase awareness of both the challenges facing our ill and injured soldiers, and the Soldier On Program, which, through generous donations, provides valuable support to this segment of the Canadian Armed Forces Community.

February 25 - March 9, 2014
Performances: Tues to Sat 8 PM; matinees Wed, Sat & Sun 2 PM
Tickets $19.00 (available at every performance) to $79.00
Tickets available online at www.mirvish.com
Or by calling Ticketking at 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333
The Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. west, Toronto
Show official website www.charlie-f.com
Facebook.com/mirvish twitter.com/Mirvish

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