August 29th, 2006

MG Puck

David Hicks and Honour Bound

THEATRE VISIT Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre- Tonight! 6.30

Meet me in the foyer of the Drama Theatre at the Opera House at 6pm. The Drama Theatre is at Ground Level; its doors look across to the Harbour Bridge. If you are late I will leave your ticket at the box office.
You should read the entry on David Hicks in the Wikipedia before tonight and the Age Editorial:
We are seeing this play to understand the role of Theatre in deepening the Conscience of the Modern World.... remember Shelley's dictum" "poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world"... If you are doing Australian Literature- it is a powerful Australian play challenging contemporary political prejudice; if you are doing Twentieth Century Literature it is a perfect example of committed political theatre... very much in line with what Harold Pinter was arguing for in his recent Nobel Prize speech ; if you are studying William Blake then what a wonderful example (a la "Visions of the Daughters of Albion") of theatre committed to challenging the notion of the United States as a free, democratic country committed to egalitarianism.... Blake would have been cheering for a play like this!!!!
You should also get a look at the following interviews and reviews:
See you there or be square!... and remember if you don't have a ticket you can still get one there at the theatre party discount price... just say you are a late-comer to our university Theatre Party....
In conclusion read all these links to inform yourself about the background to this harrowing piece of theatre which is reflecting on the moral chaos in our so-called Western democracies. I especially urge you to read the Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter's speech.... Twentieth Century students we are shortly to study this speech and one of his plays.... A taste of his speech is to be found in the following paragraph:

What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the 'international community'. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be 'the leader of the free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally - a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture. What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up.
MG Puck

Honour Bound

Here is the darkened stage at the start of this "event"... everything stark and feeling like a factory rather than a place occupied by humans. The roar of helicopters and the savage barking of distant dogs....
This was an amazing performance that utilized a whole range of media to get its powerful message across. Here is the country that prides itself on freedom and democracy carrying out the most brutal treatment on human beings who don't happen to go along with the American way. The play used spectacular dance routines and circus trapeze artistry to capture the pain and agony of torture and incarceration. I have never seen art forms used so powerfully to depict pain and agony. Then there was the amazing use of TEXT, projected onto a vast screen of the stage itself and its backdrop. This TEXT was used to ironically depict the abuse of words by all systems of government to imprison and control. Here David Hicks in his agonizing efforts to find a loophole from this horror chamber finds himself buffetted and smashed by the cascading waves of words pouring over him, flattening him, imprisoning him, intensifying the bars of the cages that enclose him. This was amazing theatre designed to disturb and move. All the techniques of high art were here used to depict the horrors of the low arts of human torture... and here are a few images of the august collection of our uni students (from first, second and third year) who came to be enlightened and animated by this powerful performance- interwoven with comments from the performance programme which contained an extensive interview with the creator of the event Nigel Jamieson (Conception, Director & Co-Designer- this is how he is referred to in the program: it is a composite multi-media work) .

Here are Anna-Lorena, Leonie, Daniel and Shaun pondering on the implications of the words above them

Nigel Jamieson had this to say about his Philosophy:
"To try and create a new form of storytelling for each new story we tackle. To explore issues that confront us as a community through the body, the emotions and the the heart. In the case of "Honour Bound" to try to imagine the peronsal and human consequences of abandoning one of our citizens to a place like Guantanamo. How far are we able to imagine and experience the emotions of a such a predicament - both for David Hicks and his family? What might our acceptance of the way he has been detained mean for us as a people and the values that we stand for?"

Talitha and Karen L enjoying a moment before the performance

Two of our international German students Insa S und Anna P enjoying their first visit to the Drama Theatre. Jeffrey V holding the stage in the front...

The author was also asked: What is the driving passion behind Honour Bound"? This was his answer: "The events of September 11, 2001 and our involvement in the US-led "War on Terror" have brought about a lot of changes in our society. In the face of the threats posed by militant islamic fundamentalists, to what extent are we to forgo cherished principals that have been a core part of our identity as a liberal democracy? Whatever ones political hue, this debate is a serious one for Australia and one which to date has been relatively muted.... How negotiable are such principles as habeas corpus (the assumption of innocence until proven guilty), the right to trial by jury and our commitment to international treaties such as The Geneva Convention and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights that have helped define the values of our society? What are the human implications if we go stepping outside the sanctuary of such legal protections? On a personal level, I have been really moved by the story of David Hicks, particularly the courage and dignity shown by Terry Hicks, in trying to support his son...."

Photogenic Marie B and boyfriend

Danielle, studying William Blake in third year, pondering on the deeper signficance of this play about injustice in all times

Nigel Jamieson was later asked: How do you see the role of theatre in the world we are living in? He replied: "I feel very passionately about some of the changes that are happening to the world and the wonderful country we live in and I think the best theatre comes out of such passion.... theatre provides a special space, a coming together of people under the one roof or under one sky to contemplate key issues that confront us."

A bmper crop of first years... all smiles! thank you guys

About the relationship of the "Art Form" to the "Content" of this theatre piece Jamieson had some very interesting things to say (helps us to understand some of the driving forces behind modernism & behind our own theatrical productions): "I always think it is important to try and create a space to "play in" that maximises the sense of creativity and personal involvement of all those taking part. In this case, we are tackling very strong themes and very powerful, and at times disturbing, material. We are exploring the experiences of human beings pushed to the very limits of human endurance and in a sense asking our performers to find a way of making a parallel journey themselves - to the edge of the expressiveness of their particular artform, be they dancer, aerialist, film maker or choreographer. Of course the challenge is to find a structure that allows the artists involved to make their response to this material as powerful and meaningful to them personally as possible, while also creating a coherent well-structured work of art."

MG and his Dad!... a feisty writer keen to voice his sense of political injustice from the roof tops... with us - at dinner before the performance.