Visualising War

Soldier On and the Soldiers’ Arts Academy with Jonathan Guy Lewis

June 23, 2021 The University of St Andrews Season 1 Episode 12
Visualising War
Soldier On and the Soldiers’ Arts Academy with Jonathan Guy Lewis
Show Notes

In this week's episode, Alice and Nicolas interview actor and playwright Jonathan Guy Lewis. Jonny joined the army on leaving university, but illness halted his training and after months in hospital he changed direction and embarked on an acting career. His military experiences came in handy when he was cast as Sgt Chris McCleod in the TV series Soldier Soldier, but they have also informed his writing and his work as Artistic Director of the Soldier's Arts Academy.

In the podcast, Jonny talks particularly about his award-winning play Our Boys, which is set in a military hospital and explores the experiences of a group of injured soldiers as they wrestle with PTSD, among other challenges. He also explains what prompted him to write his more recent play Soldier On, which again looks at PTSD and the challenges faced by veterans and their families as they navigate the complex transition from military to civilian life. As Jonny has said in the past, 'Soldier On is dedicated to all those who come home after war, but don’t really come back. And to all their loved ones and friends who know what it’s like to live with the thousand yard stare.' He is a firm advocate for the power of storytelling in the healing process, so we discuss that - and we also talk about the work of the Soldier's Arts Academy, which gives soldiers, veterans and the wider military community opportunities to get involved in the creative and performing arts, either as part of recovery or to help them develop new skills. 

Among other questions, we asked Jonny:

  • What was he trying to communicate with his play Our Boys about war and soldiering? 
  • What aspects of war and soldiering was he particularly keen to highlight in his play Soldier On?
  • How can theatre help explain PTSD and other challenges that soldiers/veterans face to a wider public?
  • What role can storytelling - and especially drama and acting - play in helping people process trauma themselves?
  • What role do historic stories and archetypes play in helping society wrestle with the ethics and impacts of war?

We hope you enjoy the episode!

For a version of our podcast with close captions, please use this link.  For more information about individuals and their projects, access to resources and more, please have a look on the University of St Andrews Visualising War website

Music composed by Jonathan Young
 Sound mixing by Zofia Guertin