A former soldier who was found sleeping rough in a bin hopes an innovative theatre project will help him put ‘seven years of hell’ behind him.
Kevin Arscott, 30, is joined by 16 other members of the local armed forces community who will act out their stories at the Waterside Theatre.
The cast, which range in age from 15-89, consists of nine veterans, three Service personnel, two military wives, two cadet instructors and a Reservist family member.
With over 160 years of service between them, they have completed tours in over 30 locations worldwide, with three having served in Afghanistan.
All but four members have no prior acting experience. The cast will take to the stage after just 33 rehearsals, or 134 hours of practice.
The play, titled Contact, is based on the cast’s personal experience and will explore themes of military interaction on the battlefield and at home.
Key cast members also include Luke Delahunty, 42, a RAF veteran who was paralysed while in service and Barbara Hurman, 89, a Second World War veteran who served on D-Day.
Mr Arscott, who hunted wild rabbits in Wendover Woods and was found sleeping rough in a wheelie bin outside the cafe there, hopes the project will aid his transition into civilian life.
He said: “The Army was a place I called home, and I really struggled when I found myself on ‘civvy street’ without the same support structure.
“The last seven years have been hell – now I’m on the road to recovery with lots of great people around me.
“I am taking part in the project so that when the curtain comes down, I can say goodbye to everything I’ve been through and move on with my life.”
Run by The Royal British Legion, in association with Aylesbury Waterside Theatre and supported by LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art), Contact will be performed between March 26 to 28.
The unique Bravo 22 theatre project was first created by Alice Driver for the Theatre Royal Haymarket and launched in partnership with the Legion and the MOD in 2011, bringing audiences the critically acclaimed ‘The Two Worlds of Charlie F’.
Carol Smith, assistant director of operations at The Royal British Legion, said: “We hope the project in Buckinghamshire will continue this legacy – Contact will help to promote greater understanding of the Armed Forces within their local community. It will also give cast members the opportunity to try something different.”
I am taking part in the project so that when the curtain comes down, I can say goodbye to everything I’ve been through and move on with my lifeKevin Arscott
In addition to acting roles, a further three members are currently undertaking stage management and technical theatre training with LAMDA.
Six others will support the production with front of house, prop making, costume design and ticket selling roles.
Tickets for Contact are now on sale from the Waterside Theatre Box Office and cost £10.
Money raised at the performances from public donations will go towards the Legion’s work providing support to serving and ex-Service people and their families.
ACTING ON EXPERIENCE
Where has the cast served?
Over 30 locatins including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Cyprus, Bosnia, N Ireland and Falklands.
Where are they working now?
‘Day jobs’ include lifeguard, carpenter, civil servant, personal trainer and student.
Do they have acting experience?
Only four of them. One was an extra on Midsomer Murders, another played Basil Brush’s assistant on Basil Brush Show.
> Our original story on Kevin Arscott: Ex-soldier lived off wild rabbits while living rough in Wendover Woods