You may have noticed the previous blog post and email from our Info Officer asking for you to help send Rebecca Crookshank to the Edinburgh Festival. I am pleased to say that, after some good-old-fashioned debate on the Committee, RAFTA has donated £250 to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to ensure that the play’s crowdfunding target was met and that the play got to Edinburgh (the £250 comprised £200 from RAFTA coffers and £50 from individual Committee Members).
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is now showing at Edinburgh’s Underbelly: if you are in Edinburgh, go see it!
Having read Rebecca’s script and considered a number of factors, the Committee felt that donating money to support Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was fully in keeping with Para 3 of the RAFTA Constitution: The Objects of the Charity are “To educate the public in the art of theatre and to develop the public appreciation and taste in dramatic arts by the performance of theatrical productions and such other ways as the trustees shall determine from time to time.”
Rebecca’s piece has received a lot of attention, and generated quite a media buzz (see WTF BFBS Interview for Rebecca’s recollection of her time at RAF Coltishall’s Theatre 101); the production has also been the subject of features in The Eastern Daily Press and The Daily Telegraph.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF) illustrates the unique nature of Service life through a number of characters based on real-life airmen and women that Rebecca met during her time in the Service. WTF, which predates the RAF’s involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, shows that Service life has always presented challenges and hardship; it also reveals some of the dark humour and darker moments of life in the RAF. The clearest message is how the RAF inspired Rebecca and provided her with inspirational role models (including the first female Station Commander, the late Air Commodore Joan Hopkins).
RAFTA Fellow Gene David Kirk and I went to see the final London preview of WTF on Tue 28 July at the Tristan Bates Theatre (nice little studio venue in the Actors’ Centre, somewhere I first heard of from people I worked with in 2011/2012 when I was at The Space in The Isle of Dogs). Rebecca put on a sterling performance, with her 9 different characters all well-signposted by an actress with a superb range of accents and a good grasp of physicality to breathe life into her different roles. The production was well-designed, and both Gene and I were hugely impressed by the replica SA80 and various other military details. On the other hand, we both picked up on some dodgy rifle drill, but as Rebecca said to me in the bar afterwards: that was true to life! Seeing the show on the stage, not just the page, was well worth it. The play is clearly a cathartic act for Rebecca, a way to explore a part of her life which has had a strong bearing on who she has become; I could see myself in many of the autobiographical moments, a wry smile forming on my lips as I heard the drill-instructors patter or heard my own voice in an officer’s attempts to encourage a young airwoman to go for her commission. I liked the mix of light and shade; I think Gene would have liked to see it go even darker, but I get the sense that there would be scope to tackle darker issues (specifically sexism and sexual harassment) in a separate piece (though drawing on some of the same raw experience).
Anyway, do pop in to see the show if you can, and provide your support to a fellow RAFTAfarian! I would love to know which parts of the show stir up your own memories of service life; we can pull up a sandbag and have a chat.