With global terror the paranoia of the decade, theatre editor Steve Cramer asks LIZ TOMLIN, director of a new piece about an unlikely suicide bomber who the real fanatics are.
s you watch this week's
episode of Get a Mortgage,
Get a Mortgage. Ge! a Mortgage. or contemplate the programme which tells you how to inflate the price of your house and sell it to some poor sap for an even bigger mortgage. or watch that programme that tells you how to sell the other house and buy an even bigger one in Spain. you might reflect that the places in the world that fill the air with ideological slogans are closer to home than you think. If not. once you've got the biggest house you‘re going to. you might consider those programmes that go into neurotic detail about how to get the interior design perfect. so that the neighbours can't increase your status anxiety. Or maybe you'll just lock yourself in and hope not to be visited by the two old battleaxes who tell you your house isn‘t clean enough to debilitate your immune system. The hegemony of consumerism as perpetuated by every media you contemplate is surely just as scary and all pervasive as any of the foreign Jihads we‘re constantly warned of.
Because it doesn't matter if you kill folk on trains through bombs or dangerous. cheapjack privatisatiqns. there‘s still a fanaticism. a resistance to rationality at the heart of the idea. With folks' choices cut down. and people constantly told that they can exercise no effect on their lives. is it any wonder that extreme solutions are sought?
Point Blank. a theatre company concerned with the politics of dissent. seem set on exploring this idea with the third part of its trilogy on resistance to the hegemony of materialism. Operation Wonderland. In it. a tnuch put upon. low paid employee of at Disneyland- like theme park engages in a succession of minor acts of sabotage. and meeting an apparent ally in a good fairy from the same park. begins to escalate his attacks. finally deciding on a suicide bombing. It all sounds pretty grim on the face of it. but this company is known for its surreal humour. Among the incidences of this in this piece. a rain of elephant shit. and a charming little song on how to make a bomb.
Director Liz Tomlin explains the play‘s dynamics. ‘We were looking at the idea of Disneyland as a metaphor for global imperialism. It‘s a fictional wonderland which is essentially a place where all the extremes of global imperialism. culturally. in particular. came together. It‘s this idea of American imperialism infecting everything it touches from Europe. to Africa and beyond.‘ she says.
80 THE LIST 1—1 5 Apr 200-1
‘IT'S THIS IDEA OF AMERICAN IMPERIALISM INFECTING EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES'
Night of the living ted
But Tomlins‘ political formula is far front simplistic. There are two sides to her debate about the
possibilities of disrupting the spectacle of
contemporary culture. ‘Wc wanted to see things from the point of view of Jed. a low paid worker. But people are so culturally dominated that even their dreams of destroying that culture have to come from within it. so there's a nihilistic element to the piece. where a debate is set tip about whether great institutions are able to incorporate the elements that undermine them. So some people have seen it as quite a nihilistic play. where all attempts at cultural disruption fail.‘ she says.
Part of the intention in the piece is explanation of what might motivate a suicide bomber. escaping the clichés of the Western media about the fanaticistn of foreign folk in foreign places. ‘We wanted to get away from the idea of "is it about Palestine?" We wanted to create a perspective of empathy for Jed. without going into a culture of activism. which would be unfamiliar to a Western audience. We'll have to see if we‘ve achieved that.‘ says Tomlin. Whatever the achievement. maybe its time we wondered who the real fanatics are.
Operation Wonderland is at the Traverse, Thu 1-Sat 3 Apr, then touring.
Re: Tread/"n9 the Boards You’ll already have read of a few of the treats you have in store at the Edinburgh International Festival this August in our news section. But Whispers can reveal more, and a grand programme it looks. Whispers is particularly excited by the return of Scottish dramatist John Clifford to Festival stages. While such work as Life is a Dream and Ines de Castro has tended to open at the EIF and tour the world, his distinctive voice, combining deep humanity and abiding politicality, hasn’t been heard enough in the Scottish theatre over the rest of the year. Once again, we have to wait for a Festival to come around to see his work, but all the same, we can be grateful it’s here at all. Once again, Clifford will be working as translator with director Calixto Bieito on a production of Fernando de Rojas’ Celestine in a tale of brothel madams and the collapse of ideals from 1499. This production, combining the talents of Birmingham Rep and Teatre Romea, Barcelona, promises the high theatricality and spectacle we’ve cone to expect from Clifford and Bieito. So, too, the return of Anthony Neilson to Scottish theatre with The Wonderful World of Dissocia is bound to whet appetites far and wide. The Scottish-born, London-based Neilson’s last premiere at the Fringe of 2002, Stitching, was, for Whispers, the singular highlight of the festival. Past work, including Penetrator and The Censor, has tended to brand Neilson as something of a shock jock of British theatre. Yet any serious look at his plays, whatever their psycho sexual interest and shocking content. reveals a dramatist concerned with what we do, and how far we go, simply to be loved. This piece, presented by the Tron and Theatre Royal, Plymouth looks richly symbolic on the face of it, dealing with the fantasy world occupied by a young woman.
Anthony Neilson’s Stitching