The Art of Silence

This play was written following a period of interview and research for a doctoral thesis on creativity and oppression; and was also based on theatre projects working with torture victims.

A psychological political drama, it is based on the experience of actor Emilio Barreto who was imprisoned without charge for thirteen years by the dictatorial regime of his country; eight years of which he spent in a single cell of 2.5 metres by 4, in which up to 12 others were imprisoned at any given time – including women and children.

The play follows the different stages of resistance and acceptance, of struggle and relinquishment that Emilio experienced during the eight year period of cell confinement and how he tried to keep his mind active and his imagination free. The play aims to show, indirectly, the effect of the imprisonment and torture on an individual, the means used to survive and the nature of that survival and the price paid for it mentally. All events are focused on the mental activity and reaction of the actors to the implied action

Two characters are involved; a young Emilio experiencing the horror of his situation: an older Emilio remembering and at times attempting to communicate with his younger self through movement and mime. While based on the dictatorship in Paraguay, the play follows an individual without reference to a particular place and time, making it applicable to any such oppressive situation.

The stage set is minimal: no scenery but lighting used. The torture and others imprisoned are never seen, they are only viewed through the younger Emilio’s reaction to what is happening around him. The claustrophobic confinements of the cell are marked by light and shadow.