Taken from my new Tumblr page for an upcoming theatre project: http://fascism-anyone.tumblr.com/
We in the West live in a post-ideological world. Or at least, that was the majority opinion until the Great Recession hit. Over the past few years, more and more of us are questioning this assumption, refusing to believe that neoliberalism means “There is no alternative”. The discourse is shifting and, as we watch lustfully as other repressed peoples overthrow their dictatorial governments, we wonder whether there is perhaps the potential for change. True, we may be lucky in the West that most people have access to the basics of life. But at what cost? And who says that’s the best we can do?
In my opinion, we in the West in danger of becoming so dogmatic about our political and economic systems that we are blinded by the rise of certain fascistic doctrines. In Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, Chalmers Johnson suggests that America is in danger of losing its democracy if it is to unashamedly pursue its various reigns of terror overseas. To my mind, this isn’t only true of America; the whole of the Western world is still, even in 2012, attempting to spread the ideas of Friedman in developing countries for their own gain, and we as citizens need to be aware of this.
Two and a half years ago, I bought a poster which outlined Laurence W. Britt’s “Early Warning Signs of Fascism”, which originated in a piece he wrote for Free Inquiry Magazine called Fascism Anyone? For eighteen months, it stared me in the face every morning as I took clothes out of my wardrobe, reminding me ceaselessly the tell tale signs of dictatorship. Other than that, however, I didn’t think much of it.
In 2011, I saw and read about a selection of multi-authored theatrical pieces in London; Decade, Greenland and The Great Game to name but a few. It seemed to me that this style of theatre was perfect for a pluralistic and cluttered information era. We are exposed to far more ideas in one day than we were ten years ago, as multiple social networks buzz endlessly and headlines are all over our houses on the various screens which greet us. Might multi-authored work become the only way we can respond to and comprehend the complexities of the twenty-first century?
In my time at Warwick, I’ve also been slightly dissatisfied with the way in which student writing is dealt with; I’m not certain the various structures which are in place in Warwick Drama lend themselves well to the process of researching, workshopping and editing required for new work.
Then, at the beginning of this year, these three ideas suddenly converged. I decided to create a piece of theatre which used Britt’s list as a springboard for fourteen responses each penned by a different writer at Warwick. The writers could respond however they pleased and we would take time to discuss, edit and workshop the pieces.
Whatever my own thoughts on fascism and our current actions in the West, I don’t intend this piece to be biased. I only intend to interrogate and provoke, asking audiences to consider fascism within their own narratives and refuse to see the concept as something which disappeared with the fall of the Berlin Wall. We’ll use whichever aspect of the theatrical tool-kit we need to tell the stories the writers have come up with and present our ideas. I also intend to at least draw on the various theatres fascistic regimes have created to better understand the way dictators disseminate a discourse.
Now we have funding from the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning at Warwick, and the piece will be performed in Week 9 of next term. The various discussions I have been having with the writers and others about the piece will now begin to come to fruition and actors will be introduced to the process to give the voices life.
This is a space with multiple uses. Firstly, it will act as a journal for the process, documenting rehearsals and workshops so audiences can feel closer to the ideas on show. Secondly, it will act as a sort of production scrapbook, so the writers, actors and I can share articles we have been reading, videos we have been watching and music we have been listening to. Most importantly, however, it is a space which should encourage debate. We want audiences to share their thoughts to and ask us questions. To this end, please post on the “Thoughts” page with anything you have to say.
We’ll be updating this regularly, so keep checking back for what our thoughts are. They’re likely to change on a daily basis, and different sides of an argument will be represented on these pages.
Feel free to get angry.