THE FATE OF FREEDOM Negotiating with terrorists

Three Australian prisoners are rescued by an ISIS defector, but refuse to trust him. Still, the stalemate leaves them each with only two options – fight and die, or work and survive together. The Fate of Freedom is a new theatre show hitting FRINGE WORLD this year at the Victoria Park Hotel from Thursday, January 24 to Sunday, January 27. It aims to explore the complex nature of trust and unity between fellow human beings when they are challenged in the most extreme circumstances. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with director Vincent Sala-Tenna to find out about the unlikely inspiration for the show and why its message of unity is more important than ever in an age characterised by division and mistrust.

So this show tells the story of three Australian prisoners having to team up with an ISIS defector in order to survive. It’s a pretty intriguing idea, where did it come from?

It was 4am and the writer, Peter Chikritzhs, couldn’t sleep. He said that he had hundreds of ideas that were running through his head which ultimately boiled down to one question. “What if someone in the Lost series needed their regular medication while stuck out in a jungle?”

That’s an interesting starting point, how was this storyline an effective way to explore that hypothetical?

The question expands through all the main characters on how we as a society relate to modern conveniences and the industries that supply them. Interrelated industries of war, medicine, food, and what we mean to them as much as they to us. I think that original question evolved quite a bit. He actually finished the first draft in only one night, but the script itself took over a year to complete.

And how about the characters in the story, do they represent different sides of that human complexity we are all trying to reconcile?

Absolutely! Starting with the soldiers, Greg is a cunning, if somewhat naïve politician and father figure. Smith is a bloodthirsty grunt desperate to survive. Sasha is the daughter of murdered Australian Journalists and has been through more than any of them emotionally, and yet holds the key to redemption in more ways than one. I hope the ISIS defector Ali grows to be a soldier with whom the audience can eventually empathise too. Despite their differences, the horrors they have all faced will make them stronger together.

There appears to be real message about how people are stronger when they work together, despite their differences. Do you think that’s a notion we need to be reminded of in this day and age and if so why?

Yes, absolutely. This show broaches a relevant and difficult topic about intercultural relationships, especially with tensions raised over terrorism coupled with the fear that refugees are going to bring it to our shores. I think the show comes with a balanced argument that says that we do need to recognise there are truly dangerous people out there who want to do us harm, but that we should also realise that conflict and division is in some ways a potentially greater enemy.

And what can you tell us about the cast and the team bringing this to life onstage? Do they bring more than just their skills and experience to the production and also share some of the ideals that you are trying to convey?

The cast has been exceptional with the work leading up to the production. All the members of the cast have come in with different acting backgrounds, and this has helped shape the characters they are bringing to life on stage. They have been great to work with the last few weeks and have all come together well and bounced off each other at rehearsals. It has been great to see!

Each character represents a different view surrounding the war in the Middle East, and this is what we’ve centred their development around. The cast has gone the extra step and built their own back stories for the characters, which has helped to bring realism and authenticity to their performances.

If the audience was to take one thing in particular away with them after watching the show, what would you like it to be?

Personally, I’d like the audience to leave with questions. The play is designed to make you question what we really believe and feel about the War on Terror, and war itself. I’d love audiences to see that there are two sides to every battle, and that there are those behind the soldiers and innocent people caught in between. It’s a beautifully crafted and thoughtful piece, so it would be great to see the audience really appreciate the gravity of the message we are putting out.