Written with and performed by ex-service personnel, Out of Service was an immersive theatre production documenting their experiences as they make the transition to civilian life in the 21st Century.

Out of Service took place at IWM North on Saturday 15th November and were performed to well attended audiences.

The performances were a culmination of a year long collaboration between Collective Encounters, IWM North, people who have served in the armed forces and those with experience of homelessness. They aimed to raise awareness of their experiences and challenge preconceptions and stereotypes. We hope that the veterans who have taken part in Out of Service find it an accurate and truthful reflection and the experience of taking part has given them an opportunity to challenge ideas for improving their own transition and the experiences of future veterans.

 “So basically, I got a medical discharge and the world collapsed.
One day I was fit enough. Next day, the world collapsed.
They kicked me out of the camp, and I had what I was stood up in,
a black bin bag and no money in my pocket.
They took my identity card, and I felt like a nobody.
When you leave, that’s it. End of story.
You’re left in the open.
Swimming. And you can’t latch onto anything.”

“Can you drive a tank? Did you get a tan? Have you been to sea?
Did you kill a man? Did you ‘hit the decks’? Did anybody die?
What’s it like to kill someone? D’you ever wonder why?”


Collective Encounters and IWM North are committed to continuing their collaborative work with veterans in the future. Look out for news about this on our website next year.

For more information on the project, visit this page.

“Anyway, before he left the army my main worries were where we were going to live?
Would he get a job? Would we have enough to eat, raise the kids properly? All that.
I’d never really thought about the mental health stuff. But when he left it was just awful.
You’d be on constant egg shells. He’d have tempers, mood swings, nightmares.
He’d get this glazed look. I’d ask him what was wrong but he’d just go into himself.”

Photography by Mark McNulty.