Other Ranks - Briefing

Other Ramblings - Some additional pieces of writing related to the making and showing of ĎOther Ranksí.

Briefing to project participants.

ĎOther Ranksí

The aim of ĎOther Ranksí is to give a fair representation to ordinary soldiers. I am recording your voices, telling me, in your own words and at your own pace, what life is like for you. Iím looking for guys whoíve been in combat situations. I want to make it clear, though, that I am not looking for sensational horror tales Ė only the words and thoughts of guys whoíve been at the business end of soldiering.

Of course I am interested in your combat experiences. However, Iím also fascinated by other, more ordinary aspects of Army life.

I wonder, for instance, what itís like to live in barracks. Whatís the food like? What are the rooms like? What is it like living, working and training away from home in the way you do? How difficult is it to form and keep happy relationships, with partners, family and friends, living as you do?What is it like, when you think of life after the Army?

Then, of course, Iím interested in what it feels like to find yourself working in a war zone, no matter what your exact job is. So far I have spoken to a Signaller, an Engineer, a Recovery Mechanic, a Combat Medic and two Infantrymen.Iím eager to hear about the widest possible range of experience under fire.

Iím hoping that youíll tell me two very important things: Firstly, how do you think the general public see soldiers; what do you believe outsiders think of you? Secondly,

What would you like the general public to understand about soldiers; how would you like outsiders to think of you?

Iíd like to hear what is special about British Squaddies. How would I recognise one, out of uniform? What upsets a squaddy, and what pleases him?

Finally and most importantly, Iím very taken with the famous squaddiesí sense of humour. I hope youíll tell me, without sparing my feminine blushes (Iím not easily offended), what makes soldiers laugh, in and out of the theatre of war.

Once I have collected your voice, Iíll edit the recording; not changing the sense of anything you said, but just tidying it up and bringing it down to length. Iíll set it alongside recordings of war poems and extracts from war literature, and then Iíll mix it into the piece, where people will hear it, among sounds of the British Army training: doing drill, assault course activity and weapons handling, as well as simply marching.

The finished piece will be made of all these sounds, mixed together, with 2 minutesí silence at the end, before the sound loops, and begins again.

I hope that visitors to the piece will leave with a sense of the effort involved in being a soldier; the highs and the lows; and especially the sacrifices made, by such a vast number of people, in the cause of the British Army.

In the end, I want people to leave with a sense of soldiers as real people, with hopes, fears and dreams, just like everybody else.

Please contact me with any and all questions. Iíll be very happy to hear from you.

Supported by Arts Council England and The Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds.