The fringe is just over 3 weeks away and in preparation I need to think of ways to keep the cast fresh for a month-long run. Especially as we’ve had a four-week break from rehearsals over July. A play about the Holocaust requires total focus and concentration emotionally every night so whilst I can spend the whole of July sending them articles about and written by Holocaust survivors (one a week – homework is good, right?!) there is certainly no guarantee whether you can possibly prepare a cast for fully immersing themselves in that amount of emotion every night for 22 performances.
Whilst planning I started to consider the question of whether or not there could be a chance of feeling apathetic towards the holocaust. We sat and watched ‘The Reader’ and spoke more about Kate Winslet’s nipples afterwards than we did about the implications and moral dilemma behind the film. We have laughed and joked around during rehearsals (and played a lot of games and group spooning). The cast have corpsed during runs of this play (and tried to put me in a bin – twice)! Recently, however, I received a tag in this particular photograph (right) on Facebook from a good friend of mine and it seriously reminded me some of the ridiculous notions that our society has about the holocaust – mostly because the first comment under it was a joke. So can you feel apathetic and immune about the Holocaust? Yes, I think you probably can and perhaps the simplest explanation is an unwillingness to believe that anything so awful could have been allowed to occur.
The first time, I stumbled across ‘The Investigation’ around a year and a half ago when trying to find a copy of Marat/Sade in the library to re-read. The first reading chilled and affected me; whilst reading it I think any apathy I could have had towards the Holocaust vanished in an instant. The second reading got me thinking – so how do you go about staging a play about the Holocaust? I have to say the challenge intrigued me. I think the best attempt I’ve seen is Grotowski’s Akropolis – the worst way to go about it would be attempting to re-create anything as horrific as the concentration camps on stage. For one thing any attempt at realism would just not compare; hence the physical and symbolic route that we have gone down with this production. However, I believe that the honesty behind the words is ‘The Investigation’s’ greatest asset. It’s not constructed or fabricated or shaded by that fuzzy phrase ‘artistic licence’, these are real people speaking about real events.
Even though I have now read it probably around fifty times now, some of the scenes still have the power to make my hair stand on end and induce me to feel physically sick; that is why it needs to be performed. The play delves beyond scenes of gas chamber and crematoriums to reveal the stories that are less often told. Theatre should have a point and a purpose. This plays purpose is to question and allows the audience to deliberate the moral obligations of one human to another and remind to ourselves of the lengths that perpetrators of such persecution will go to.
The Investigation, 21:00, 5-29 August, Zoo Southside, Venue 82.