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Davey Anderson - Rupture

Davey Anderson is slightly worried about the poster for his new play. Rupture, a co-production between The Traverse Theatre and the National Theatre Of Scotland Workshop programme, may well be a contemporary noirish thriller about migrant workers in Scotland. It may too give subtle nods to similarly styled European cinema looking at how a dominant culture can exploit incomers. It’s just, with the poster’s angled and tinted images of the play’s cast, Anderson doesn’t want it’s slightly retro feel to send out the wrong signals.

“I hope it doesn’t come over too Jean Luc Godard,” says the writer and director on a break from rehearsals. “Too much looking like Breathless.”

In actual fact, part of the inspiration for Rupture came from a more recent French film, the Michael Haneke directed Cache, released in Britain as Hidden.

“It’s a film that’s about the secrets a society has,” Anderson observes, “and the things that are kept hidden, and how those things left unspoken relate to peoples personal lives. The central thing that happened to the main character during his childhood was also related on a larger scale to France in the 1960s in terms of how it treated its Algerian immigrants and the legacy of colonialism. That made me interested in exploring something similar in a Glasgow context, to look at what are our secrets. One of the things we don’t like to talk about is how we treat our immigrants, and the fact that our whole economy is based on work being done by migrant workers. If you take that away, then our very comfortable consumer society starts to crumble. There’s also this idea that beyond the shiny, easy lifestyle we have there’s something very hollow there.

“We’re constantly searching for something to fulfil our lives, and we’re promised the idea of fulfilment through buying stuff, but it’s a very empty promise. Out of all that, we’ve ended up with this story about a guy who works in the construction industry, but whose company collapses, but he still goes into the office every day, as well as other strands about an unfulfilled love story between a security guard and a cleaner.”

From the presence on building sites of Irish labourers to the more recent Polish influx, the experience of migrant workers has long been scrutinised by artists. Many of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s films looked at the Turkish experience in post-war Germany. Closer to home, Nick Broomfield’s just screened Ghosts, was inspired by the tragedy at Morecambe Bay when illegal Chinese cockle-pickers were swept away by high tides. Onstage, Clare Bayley’s recent Edinburgh Fringe hit, The Container, threw a group of illegal immigrants from various countries together in the back of a lorry en route to the UK. Rupture, though, offers no pat political solutions to an increasingly complex situation.

“I don’t think people set out to be evil or do something they know will be to the detriment of other people,” says Anderson. “They somehow find ways to blinker themselves off. It’s fascinating to try and get under the skin of these people, who lie to each other and lie to themselves, and think it’s okay to take advantage of people. But when people f*** other people over, how do they sleep at night? How do they think its okay? When you look at what’s going on in a country who can sanction an illegal war, it’s maybe not surprising people exploit each other the way they do.”

Capitalist society, as Anderson tells it, is founded on such attitudes.

“Thinking as a group or a community is discouraged by politicians as much as anyone,” he says, “because they want you to be enterprising and upwardly mobile as individuals, and they want you to step on people in order to get to a certain place. There was an example of that where a guy had a pizza franchise, and a lot of his workers were from eastern Europe. They would have to pay him for their accommodation, for the hire car they did their deliveries in, for an introduction to the company, so after a month’s work their pay packets would come out with a minus on. I can see his logic for that in a capitalist sense, but in a human sense, how did he expect them to live?”

Anderson’s breakout play, Snuff, produced by The Arches as part of their Directors Awards scheme and which later toured to The Traverse, showcased a raw new talent who, with a similar spirit to Anthony Neilson, preferred to write and direct his work in the rehearsal room from scratch. Anderson developed this approach with his own Push Bar To Open company, formed with friends from university, though since his appointment as NTS director in residence, he’s worked as dramaturg and musical director on a variety of projects as well as premiering another play, Summit, at Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie And A Pint season of lunchtime theatre.

As part of his two year stint as a director-in-residence with the NTS, Anderson recently spent some time in New York working with dynamic young company, The T.E.A.M. on a new project which used Gone With The Wind as its starting point. Working with such a free-thinking collective led to Anderson’s own return to a more collective approach to theatre-making which sits squarely outside the new writing industry. Rather than nurture Rupture into life over an extended period of development, Anderson has jumped straight in the deep end.

“It’s a piece we’re making up as we go along,” he admits, “and is as much written by the cast as it is by me. It’s slightly scary, seat of the pants stuff, going right up to the wire, but it’s exciting too, basically having lots of arguments and passionately discussing things. I’m quite happy that we disagree about what kind of message we’re getting across. It’s more important to agree on what the questions are rather than what the answers are.”

Rupture, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Previews September 22-23, then September 25-October 6

The Herald, September 18th 2007



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