Critically acclaimed multi-cultural company MT Space are bringing their new play, The Last 15 Seconds to Victoria on March 18-20 as part of Canada-wide tour. Majdi Bou-Matar, the show’s director and co-creator talks to Intrepid Theatre’s Sammie Gough about using the lens of theatre to examine the human impact of terrorism.
Q: How would you describe the Last 15 Seconds?
The Last 15 Seconds is a play about terrorism. It raises the question of why would anyone strap a bomb to their body and kill themselves along with others. It is a play about responsibility. Who is responsible? Do the victims hold no responsibility? What is our responsibility as we witness such stories?
Q: What was the original inspiration behind creating the Last 15 Seconds?
The irony and absurdity of the event were my inspiration. I was fascinated by the fact that Mustapha Akkad was so concerned with correcting the image of Islam to the west and almost dedicated his life to promoting a good image, and yet he was killed by a Muslim extremist. The other layer into this is that Mustapha Akkad was the creator of Halloween horror franchise that became a brand of onscreen violence. Again what is Akkad’s responsibility in his own murder, and what is our responsibility when it comes to violence consumption.
Audience have reacted on both emotional and intellectual levels. People found the play to be very moving, and at the same time it compelled they felt to learn more about the underlying politics of the Middle East.
Q: Why did you choose the story of Syrian-American filmmaker Mustafa Akkad as the focal point for the play?
Because he is very much like me: an immigrant, an artist and a dreamer.
Q: The play is co-created by six artists. How did this collaborative process of writing the play work and what did each individual artist bring to the process?
We always create collaboratively. I find theatre by its very essence an art of collective creation. Creation comes first and then the writing. The play goes from the stage to the page. The actors are the real creators. They create with their own bodies and voices. The Director is more of an editor and the playwright mostly documents, however with such editing and documenting come a lot of creative input.
Q What do you think is the importance of using theatre to examine taboo subjects such as suicide bombing?
Theatre to me is a tool for community building and social justice. Its value is in its capacity to steer communities towards equality, diversity, and human dignity. From here theatre becomes the medium where we have to tackle the taboos. Theatre permits us to collectively be vulnerable — cry, laugh, feel weak or angry! It is the place where we encourage each other artists and audiences to overcome social taboos!
The Last 15 Seconds runs from March 18-20 at the Metro Studio. Tickets are PWYC opening night at the door or $21 regular price. Student rush tickets $10, the day of the show.