In 2001 at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, more than 600 people, comprising 40 nationalities, were detained by the US government without charge, trial or access to lawyers. On 19 February, five Britons were released, although our UK nationals and at least two British residents remain imprisoned.
Based on personal testimony from the families of detainees, as well as statements from lawyers, government spokesman, medical experts and other commentators, Guantanamo pertains to this as well as 14 foreign nationals held in London’s Belmarsh prison, the ‘Guantanamo in our own backyard’, according to Amnesty International.
The title of the play – researched and written by Victoria Brittain, ex associate foreign editor for the Guardian, and South African born author Gillian Slovo - derives from the sign above the entrance to Camp Delta.
In the West End, Tricycle artistic director Nicolas Kent and Sacha Wares co-direct the original cast including David Annen, Jan Chappell, William Hoyland, Tariq Jordan, Aaron Neil, Alan Parnaby, Theo Fraser Steele and Badi Uzzaman, as well as Daniel Cerqueira (until 26 June) and Paul Bhattacharjee (until 14 August, after which he leaves to join the new Bollywood-style West End production of Twelfth Night - See Today’s Other News).
Guantanamo follows last year’s Justifying War, adramatisation of the Hutton Inquiry into the death of government arms advisor Dr David Kelly (See News, 12 Aug 2003), and the Tricycle's earlier stagings of the Nuremberg trials, the Scott Arms to Iraq Inquiry, the Hague hearings on the Srebrenica massacre and, most famously, the Stephen Lawrence murder trial. The last, titled The Colour of Justice, toured the country and had a short West End run, in addition to being broadcast on the BBC.
Guantanamo is designed by Miriam Buether with lighting by Johanna Town. It’s presented in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions. In a major departure from normal West End pricing policies, all tickets for the play’s run at the New Ambassadors will be sold at £20 (as opposed to the norm of up to £40 for plays).
- by Terri Paddock