Locked in a detention centre for an indefinite period of time, a man named Arman finds himself caught between two nightmarish decisions: to return to his homeland, imprisonment and torture, or remain in Australia, where imprisonment and mental anguish reign supreme. Faced with these choices, he tackles the question: what can you do to take back control of your life when it’s been taken away from you?”
In August of last year I was hit by a car in Berlin. Among other things, I had to pull out of the end of my NIDA course and postpone it while I focussed on healing myself. As I came to, numerous doctors warned me that the damage to my brain was (at that point) of an unknown quantity – they weren’t sure whether I’d be able to write again, and as such I shouldn’t be either. As it turns out, my writing capabilities have quite thankfully remained wholly in tact, but in December and January 2014/15, the only was I could be sure was to put myself out there beyond writing for myself (one of the first things I did, after getting over my jetlag, was begin to write a play I’d been planning for a while, just to see if I could. That was all well and good, but writing for someone else is an entirely different ball game.) Around this time, a friend sent me the link to Apocalypse Theatre’s “ASYLUM” call-out – they needed a handful of writers to volunteer to participate in their quick-response theatre scheme (two weeks of staged readings on the topic of asylum), in the process waving their fees so that all ticket sales could be donated to the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne:
“for 12 nights across two weeks, old 505 theatre will come alive with new australian works that explore what it means to seek asylum
Operation Sovereign Borders was the policy the Coalition government took to the September 2013 Federal election – a military-led response to ‘combat people smuggling and protect Australia’s borders’.
Playwrights from across the country have been invited to create new plays that respond to one of the most contested ideas in Australia’s identity. How will our stage respond to Operation Sovereign Borders? What do our great storytellers have to say? The selected plays have been matched to directors and actors for two weeks of quick-response theatre.
Fasten your seatbelt.”
I quickly found a topic to engage with and, once they gave me the go-ahead, got started. This was everything I loved: the opportunity to meld real-life opinions and incidents with a fiction not far removed from the bitter truth. I didn’t realise it then, but now I see that the anger inherent in 63 Days comes as reactionary to the situation I’d found myself in: at 26, back living with my parents, unable to act like an independent and intelligent adult and spending hours each week completing menial tasks in rehabilitation therapy. The quick-response genre was freeing in its immediacy – I had no time to stress, fret or sweat over individual words or the placement of certain lines, I simply had to get to it and get it done, which allowed me to channel my anger at the injustice of the situation a lot more immediately that I would have.
“Christopher Bryant offers a searing piece about a man named Arman who finds himself trapped between two nightmares; a homeland filled with torture and pain in prison or a new world filled with mental torture and pain in prison.” – Lisa Thatcher