I think there is an interesting question about the extent to which the war on terror has changed our relationship to “democratic rights”, and whether or not there is just an acknowledgment of some previously unacknowledged realities; Donald Rumsfeld’s famous “unknown knowns”, if you will. I think that there is something in the notion of the “democratic rights” of a society like ours, in that they are always suspended for some. Whether this is through things like emergency powers legislation or institutions like the CIAs School of the Americas, or the British Secret Services in the North of Ireland that helped retain control of former parts of empires. I think the thing that changed with the war on terror was that various regimes, particularly the americans became bold enough to start talking openly about what we always secretly knew they were doing.
Hurr does believe in what he is doing for his country. I think this is the real ethical challenge we are tring to explore. Its like the philosopher Slavoj Zizek says about comparing the Nazi regime to the Soviet one. One is an instance of bad people saying they will do bad things, then going on to do those bad things, where as the soviets system can be seen as good people saying they will do good things, but going on to do bad things.
I wrote a the torture scenes by doing quite a lot of research into the transcripts that came out of the investigations into Abu Ghraib. They are quite brutal scenes, but after reading the transcripts you feel an immense pressure to confront audiences with what you have found. In the direction we have tried to be as non literal as possible, using visual and movement elements. Part of the artistic vision for the piece is to intervene into a certain style of showing violence on stage which I think is quietly dominant at the minute, where the actual brutality of the act is glossed over.
Working with Ross and Ayo has been fantastic, and an important part of dealing with these issues. I have a previous relationship with our designer Uzma and that has developed too. I think working with other artists brings a freshness and a new way of working to the rehearsal room. Its brilliant in Ross’s case to be able to work with an accomplished artist who is coming from a very different background, and is part of our strategy for bringin new people to theatre as artists and audiences. I come from quite a non traditional route into theatre, and was active in house and techno music in my early twenties, so its brilliant to bring quite bold electronic music into the process.