“Having worked with survivors of childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault for almost thirty years, (Danna’s) experiences told from your writing and acting are as authentic as anything I have witnessed… Having borne witness to thousands of hours listening and counselling survivors, both women and men, her voice through you was like being there with them. That it had humour as well is true also… There was not one inauthentic note in ‘heroine’ which elevates it beyond a play, perhaps to an experiential dialogue between artist and audience."
Anne MacDonald, former advisor to SURVIVOR SCOTLAND
We are so happy to have been part of
MADE IN SCOTLAND 2018
at Assemblyfestival.com in Edinburgh Festival.
Made in Scotland is a curated showcase presenting
world class work - the 23 best shows nationally.
heroine was part of this showcase and was longlisted for The Amnesty Freedom of Expression award
runner up in the prestigious
Scottish Theatre Arts Club Award
Against a critically acclaimed shortlist that included the Traverse's Ulster American, Summerhall's Achilles, NTS' First Snow, Premiere Neige.
This is beyond joyful, as it has always been my hope that the play gets a life as a full production for Scottish audiences, and hopefully tours the world and especially the USA at the right level. Watch this space for next year's touring dates, hopefully announced in January 2019.
Heroine is based on the true story of a lesbian soldier in the US army: an outsider who wouldn't quit.
She loved its challenges; thrived and excelled within that rigorous world. At the time she enlisted, before 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was repealed, she was the only woman in her entire company and went on to lead a squad into combat. A survivor of military sexual trauma, she served on the battlefield alongside her assailant.
Heroine is an incredible human story about one soldier's experiences, and what healing and forgiveness really mean.
Wells entirely embodies her protagonist whether in harrowing episodes of attack... or throughout her progression through rage, helplessness and redemption. At no point does she shy away from any aspect of Danna's story, including the pitch dark humour of a survivor. Her mesmerising performance combines flawlessly with carefully considered staging and lighting...and Wells cleverly, painstakingly depicts the sheer, exhausting labour of healing. A real miracle...the effects of a play like Heroine will far outlast anything that a mere soundbite could hope to convey. A play that impacts its audience whilst dramatising sensitive subject matter with the utmost respect.
Powerful, visceral theatre that is not easily forgotten."
- Marc David Jacobs, The Fountain, 90%
Hilarious and chilling by turns, Heroine tells a compelling story whilst digging deep into subjects so raw they are taboo.. Without flinching, Wells takes her audience out to the edge and shows them the blazing fires beneath: she does an exceptional job. There is a real spontaneity to Wells’ performance, too. She has a story to tell, but no axe to grind here, and the words fall out as if they were coming to her on the spot, not carefully scripted. Tension, release and laughter...she know a thing or two about pace - both in the telling and in the writing.
If you can’t see it now, mark it well and go and see it when you can. What appears, on the surface, to be the furthest from what you would want as the basis for an evening’s entertainment, turns out to be fascinating and gloriously entertaining – even as it bites hard."
- Thom Dibdin, All Edinburgh Theatre ****
"An impressive performance....Heroine is a compelling story of resilience and survival, told by Wells in her own script with tremendous assurance and vivid attention to detail. A clean and focussed production.. with Matt Padden's excellent soundscape putting us on edge and the unsentimental poetry of the script keeping us gripped, it's a tough, impassioned show."
- Mark Fisher, The Scotsman, ****
The Bigger Picture
This play is not a polemic for or against war. It is a dramatically compelling story, but I also wrote it from a sense of outrage at what one soldier endured, admiration for her character and because I wanted to support her healing. Her truth needs to be out there and she was clearly ready to talk. I knew that in order to tell this story responsibly and truthfully, the dark humour we shared was also essential. My bones said, 'Write.'
In my research, I was horrified to find out just how many servicemen and women had also been raped by their fellow soldiers in their own platoons, often by those higher up in the chain of command. The problem has been around for decades and is only getting worse. The military knows, but to my great moral disgust, turns a blind eye to it, ignores it or blames the victims and promotes their assailants. No register of sex offenders existed within the military until 2014.
Most of these perpetrators are institutionally championed. When honourably discharged, they go straight into civilian society.
This play is my way of supporting one woman's bravery in speaking out.
The play tells her story, and does not promote any specific piece of legislation (God save us from theatre that does THAT) but I am an active campaigner now as a result of writing it. I feel there is a need for the promotion of specific change so that the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation and victim care from sexual assaults is taken out of the normal military chain of command, which has proven grossly ineffective, and places jurisdiction in an autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office.
The Department of Defence (DOD) defines Military Sexual Trauma (MST) as rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, and acknowledges that it affects both women and men in uniform. The Pentagon estimates that sexual assaults increased from 19,000 in 2011 to 26,000 in 2012 and the figures are actually higher from 2013-2016. For a copy of the 2017 report, see the RESOURCES page. The 2017 figures take into account the estimated 80% of cases that are not reported, but not repeated assaults or assaults against civilians. The culture of professional retaliation against those who do report makes me think that figure is conservative. Also, of the 22 veterans suicides every day, 19 of those are MST survivors, according to the American Psychological Association.
As it stands, there are 40 sexual assaults or related incidents EVERY DAY.
I support both a zero occurrence and zero tolerance of MST.
Please consider adding your voice to the chorus demanding change:
take a look at the RESOURCES page for ways to do this.