The Soldier’s Tale
This new adaptation of THE SOLDIER'S TALE reimagines Stravinsky's classic score in the context of drone warfare. Through this immersive performance featuring the testimony of drone operators and strike survivors, the audience is asked to consider: is it worth it? How many soldiers are saved? How many civilians are killed?
The original L’Histoire du Soldat is based on a Russian folk tale, in which a Soldier makes a fatal deal with the Devil: he trades his beloved violin for untold riches. The Soldier out-gambles the Devil and, as a reward, wins a ‘mute, dancing princess.’ But the piece ends with the Devil’s ominous curse: “you cannot have both.” The Soldier cannot have both his family and the mute, dancing princess.
My Soldier is a young video gamer who is recruited to the US military to fly drones. The Devil, as her commander and the play’s narrator, guides her through the mountains of North Waziristan from the safety of their trailer in Nevada.
The Devil, again, warns: “you cannot have both.” In modern warfare—despite the promises made by the drone program—we cannot have safety of soldiers and safety of civilians. We have made our choice.
The Soldier and the Devil surveille Amira, a Pashtun activist who produces YouTube music videos to advocate for her community. Over the course of the performance, Amira creates a memorial out of toy soldiers to honor the 1,600 civilians who have been killed in drone strikes and labeled militants by the US military.
In order to honor these individuals, as well as others affected by drone strikes, most of the play text is derived from interview testimony. I hope to center the voices of those who have encountered and endured this violence, and the ways in which they continue to survive against all odds.
Performed at the Clapham Omnibus Theatre in November 2018.