Moments of Human Interaction: An Interview with Chris Thorpe

Fri 20 September 2013

“What I like to do is unpick little moments of human interaction, little sections of people’s lives…”

There Has Possibly Been An Incident runs from 25 September – 5 October. Directed by 2013 JMK Award-winner Sam Pritchard, the show premiered this year at Latitude Festival, followed by a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

We caught up with Fringe First-winner and writer Chris Thorpe to find out the motivations behind the play, and what he feels are its strongest messages…

Can you tell us what the play is about?

They play is an inter-cut sequence of monologues (with a little bit of dialogue laid over the top) of people telling you a story. Quite often what I like to do is unpick little moments of human interaction, little sections of people’s lives, and draw it all together. I wanted to concentrate on those moments when life has the chance to be heroic in some way, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. It offers you various different style of heroism – I wanted to look at that idea from various angles.

And what made you write this particular play, at this particular time?

One of the things that’s been really fascinating me for a while is the idea of conviction. It’s the idea that most people, most of the time, are convinced that they are making the right decision, on the evidence that’s available. I find that really interesting.

At this particular time, we are in a world where we have the luxury of unpicking people’s motives for doing things – immediately seeing and analysing, but not necessarily understanding. Actions can be dissected and discussed but not necessarily given the time or the depth to really think about the potential causes of why something happened or what might have been going through someone’s mind. So I guess, the play is about us saying, let us take this space of time, just a smidgen of time, just over an hour, to sit down and listen to some people talking about the thought processes that have led them to make the decisions that they have.

There’s one story about someone being presented in a moment of disaster, with a choice to help or not to help. There’s someone who had to make a series of political compromises which have led them further and further away from their ideals. I wanted to ask what else was going on in their minds? … and try and understand. At the moment, as a society, we skate over, we hyperlink, we quote, we condemn, we reinforce each other’s views of whether someone is good or evil… but we don’t necessarily stop to think about the chain of events which has led them to that point.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the piece?

It’s a really difficult question. In terms of political answers or conclusions about the way we operate as human beings… it is not that I don’t want audiences to think about that, I absolutely do, but I don’t want them to go away with a set of conclusions. I would like them to feel like they have seen an honest attempt to understand a group of people. I would like them to be able to, even in the tiniest way, apply that to the next set of interactions that they have, or the next time they read a newspaper, or are presented with a seemingly inexplicable piece of human behaviour. I want them to come out with something to think about.

Is there anything else you want to tell us about the play?

For me, the play is about a choice between compromise and certainty. It’s about the danger of where we can get to if we get left on our own. But it’s also about, in the end, the amazing things that we can do if we are forced by circumstances to make s snap decision. It’s about how we’ll never get any of those things completely right. We’ll never get life completely right… we just have to do the best we can.

Pictured: Yusra Warsama, Nigel Barrett and Gemma Brockis in There Has Possibly Been An Incident. Photo – Jonathan Keenan.

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