Written and performed by David William Bryan, In Loyal Company, a story of a missing World War II soldier facing desperate odds, is currently touring the UK. I caught up with David to find out what inspired him to write this story.
Can you tell me about In Loyal Company?
It’s the true, untold story of my great uncle’s capture at the hands of the Japanese Army in World War II. It’s a one-man play in which I portray 18 characters in 75 minutes.
What inspired you to write the play?
My dad knew I was looking for my next one-person play and suggested I look into my great uncle’s story. I knew the broad strokes of it, but the more I learnt, the more I knew I had to turn it into a play.
What research did you carry out when writing the play?
About a year’s worth. I gathered all the information I could from the family and from historical sources. It was a strange process because I had to know everything about the history to then write the story from a perspective of complete ignorance. My great uncle had no idea what was coming, but in the play I have to describe these events in an accurate, responsible way. It was a real challenge to do both simultaneously.
What has been the audience reaction so far?
It floors me every time. At every show there are numerous highly emotional audience members whose relatives suffered in a similar way. It’s completely humbling. The performances are for those men. I’m just a vehicle to be able to share one of countless heart-breaking stories. It’s a real honour.
How did you get into acting?
I was 25 and was lost. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I took a summer course in acting. The rest is history.
What would you like the play to achieve?
I would like it to live on forever. The more time goes by, the more danger we’re in of losing the specifics of these important stories. To have this play in print and it be performed by generation after generation is of the upmost importance to me.
For more information on In Loyal Company tour dates or to book tickets, visit http://www.davidwilliambryan.com/