What is it?
This first production of The Soldier's Tale –– a new adaptation of Stravinsky's classic work by Devika Ranjan and the London Young Sinfonia –– explores and explodes the technology of modern warfare: drones. Our first performance at London’s Clapham Omnibus Theatre in November 2018.
Who are we?
The project features an outstanding cast of postgraduates from London's Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and freelance actors in the greater London area. They are joined by the Chamber Players of the London Young Sinfonia, an ensemble of young professionals and some of the finest student players from the Royal Academy of Music and London's other music colleges.
Devika Ranjan (Director) is a first-generation Indian-American. Devika explores global stories of migration and belonging through political research, performance, and prose. As a Fellow at the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, Devika specializes in writing, devising, and directing theatre pieces that draw from interview testimony and found text. Most recently, she has been touring a devised performance called I Pledge Allegiance in Europe and the United States.
Devika holds a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service, with concentrations in Culture & Politics and Arabic, from Georgetown University (Washington DC, USA). She also has an MPhil in Sociology from the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK), where she focused on refugee rights, surveillance, and bodily technology. Devika is currently pursuing an MA in Applied Theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London, UK) funded by the Marshall Scholarship.
Elias Brown (music director, producer) creates thought-provoking and boundary-pushing musical programs in and out of the concert hall. He has assisted Oliver Knussen, Mark Elder, Edward Gardiner, and Jac van Steen, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Hall, The Kennedy Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Proms at Royal Albert Hall, Mariinsky Theatre, and Moscow's Tchaikovsky Hall. Recent work has included CAVE, recently named an official selection at the Prague Quadrennial for Performance Design; less than a grain of dust, a performance-installation commissioned by the Yale University Art Gallery for their groundbreaking “Lumia” exhibition; and Brown was assistant conductor for the Yale Symphony Orchestra's 2017 Russian Tour. Elias is also a teaching artist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, regularly conducting outreach programs with underserved communities across greater London. He holds a B.A. from Yale University and is currently completing his MMus at the Royal Academy of Music.
Michaela Gasteratou (stage manager, assistant director) is a Greek-Ethiopian actor based in London. Since graduating from East 15 Acting School she has worked as an actor, voice-over artist and technical assistant with various production companies such as BBC Radio 4 and CASA Latin American Theatre festival.
In the interest of creating more accessible theatre and educational productions that combat stigma surrounding various medical conditions, Michaela has commenced her MA in Creative Producing at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Inspired with her heritage, she looks forward to creating world music and theatre festivals that celebrate African and European performance art and culture.
Holly Spence (lighting designer and operator) is currently in her third and final year studying BA Stage and Production Management at East 15 Acting School. Her credits whist in study include stage manager of The Bacchae, DSM in Medea, ASM of Neaptide and many technical roles. Holly will be spending time next year working for Northern Ballet on their new production of Victoria. When not stage management she works in musical theatre with young children.
The Soldier’s Tale is an intimate theatrical experience that explores and explodes the technology of modern warfare: drones.
Marking both the centenary of Igor Stravinsky's composition and the armistice of the first World War, our production combines theatre, dance, live music, projection, audience interaction, and interview testimony to compose a work that asks, is it worth it? How many civilian lives have been taken? How many soldiers have been saved?
Since 9/11, the War on Terror has created and perpetuated harmful Muslim stereotypes and policies that led to the deaths of countless innocent individuals. In drone targeted areas, any ‘military-aged male’ is considered a viable suspect for a drone strike and if they are killed, they labeled an “enemy killed in action”—without even being identified. Throughout our performance, we center the stories of individuals who have survived drone strikes. We focus on their words through interview testimony and honor their narratives as central to the drone debate.
This fusion of art and politics is a necessary response to current sociopolitical attitudes about war—especially the War Against Terror. While Muslim majority countries are portrayed as the enemy, and individual Muslims are denied their own agency, The Soldier’s Tale combats these essentializing, fatal stereotypes. Our piece not only grapples with the injustice of drone warfare, but also celebrates the artistic culture of places that are, now, only known for war and conflict.
Our Soldier is a young video gamer who is recruited to the US military to fly drones. The Devil, as her Commander and the play’s narrator, guides her through the mountains of North Waziristan from the safety of their trailer in Nevada. They observe Amira, a Pashtun activist who produces YouTube music videos about the beauty, culture, and history of her community. She hopes that through her digital art, she can convince American viewers that Pashtun people are not terrorists. Over the course of the performance, she creates a memorial for the 1,580 civilians who have died in drone strikes.
We already have a second production in the works in Cambridge in spring of 2019, but we need a bit of funding to get our first showing off the ground. Please donate to help us get there and launch this project!
Where will the money go?
We've already raised £600, but we need your help to get us to the finish line. University of Essex will matchfund the first £250 pounds given as well.
Cost Breakdown For Our Target
- Fees for three actors, seven orchestra members, and a creative team of four: £1400
- Music hire and grand rights: £500
- Costuming, props, and lighting costs: £300
- Video, photo, and audio documentation: £250
- Percussion hire and instrument transport: £450
- Publicity and programmes: £100
- Theatre deposit: £45
- Contingency (10%): £279.50
Check out our fantastic awards –– including an invitation-only webinar/talkback with the creators, a two-hour devised acting workshop with our director, a specially-composed Stravinsky-inspired ringtone, and more!
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Help us succeed!
- You don't need to give money to help us succeed! Please share this project with anyone you think would support us – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog.
- In fact, share it with everyone you know as we think it's a great idea, and the more people who know about it, the more likely we are to make this work out brilliantly.
- And we know we said you don't need to give money to help us, but we'd love it if you did! Please sponsor in whatever way you can and help make this happen.