ArtZine speaks to the cast of Das Experiment: Black Box. First up is Claude Giraldi who plays ex-journalist Tarek Fahd who now makes a living being a taxi driver.
About Das Experiment:
Based on a book by German novelist, Mario Giordano, the play will explore how a simple behavioural research can escalate to a horrific episode of violence and power abuse.
As part of a research project, 20 participants stay in a mock-prison where they are randomly divided into two groups of guards and prisoners. “Prisoners” are ordered to obey the rules, they are required to give up their lives and rights as citizens. “Guards” are instructed to keep the inmates order.
Things go awry when the life-threatening situation blurs the line between reality and experiment. Only the morally-strong will survive.
Claude Girardi as Tarek Fahd
CG: Walk into a room full of kids and within seconds you can pinpoint the kid that is going to give trouble. The hyperactive one with just too much attitude for a child and far too much power and influence over the behavior of the other children. Add 15 years and there you have my character Tarek Fahd, a 28 year old former journalist who now makes a living being a taxi driver. An irresponsible, egotistical guy who loves living a carefree mischievous lifestyle.
“What was supposed to be a fun and easy way to earn some cash turns out to be an experience that forces Tarek to grow up, face his failures and start taking responsibility for his actions.”
In preparing for the play, what have you discovered about human behaviour?
CG: That we are all fundamentally whacked out! Seriously – we all think we know ourselves and the fact of the matter is that we don’t. Who’s to say if put in the right environment, we aren’t capable of hurting other people? Hopefully morality and conscience will kick in to ensure that we make the right choices but in situations where we either have to fight or flight, who knows how we will truly behave and whether our conscience will even have any impact over our need to survive.
What is your favourite part of the production?
CG: Working hard, doubting and questioning a lot, working harder, practicing, discussing, questioning some more and then finally doing the run and realising that all the challenges and rollercoaster of emotions was necessary and worthwhile as it pushed the potential of the production further and further. There are physical challenges too as there is so much movement and ‘live’ action sequences involving fight choreography and guns. Also, there are time challenges. In terms of time versus content, it’s an epic challenge for all involved to work within the time constraints.
How have the rehearsals been?
CG: Very intense and very fun. Sure there are more prominent characters present throughout the text however we are all [15 actors] dependent on the performance and reactions of our fellow actors. The piece develops as a whole as a cast of 15 actors working closely off one-another, reacting, responding and listening to one another so closely. It’s an intense, heightened environment which allows everyone to work in sync with one another.
“I sincerely hope that the audience leaves the theatre not depressed and fearful of suspicious of participant requests in the newspaper but leave the production with a better understanding that it’s okay not to know ourselves 100%. It’s through fortifying our morality and conscience that we can make the line between good and evil a distinct and clear line that we do not wish to cross.”
Up Next: R. Chandran
We speak to R. Chandran, who plays Harry Shutte, an affable man who runs a corner store. “When given the choice he is non-confrontational and someone who will offer support and co-operation.” he adds.
RC: We all have the capacity to react positively or negatively to a given circumstance; and circumstances have the capacity to push us all to behave irrationally and beyond what we perceived was our intrinsic character.
While the rehearsals have been exhausting, Chandran finds the character development an exciting process. “It is very interesting intellectually. The range of characters being, individually, pieced together meticulously, and then weaved tightly into the plot. While plotting my character’s journey, I have to keep in mind that I need to always be open to stimulus provided by my fellow actors/characters and the situations we are in.”
RC: I believe it will be the unleashing of the mayhem in the performance space when the run begins.
“Ask yourself: If pushed against the wall, am I capable of evil?”
More about Das Experiment…
Das Experiment: Black Box
Dates: Nov 14 to Nov 29, 2008
Venue: The Pavilion – 28 China Street
Tickets are available from Sistic.
Tues – Thurs & Sun performances S$35
Fri & Sat Performances S$38
Senior Citizens S$28
Mature Themes: M16