Have you ever been powerfully persuaded by something you’ve read in a newspaper? Should journalists be held responsibility for the consequences of the articles they write?
Inspired by the late polemicist Christopher Hitchens and a real-life incident with one of his readers, For the Sake of Argument interrogates the power and danger of language, as one journalist’s words send a young man to the frontline in the Iraq War.
You know how to persuade
This provocative new play is written and directed by Harry Darell and produced by his company Admission Productions, founded in 2019. The story in the play is fictionalised. The journalist in question is Eleanor Hickok, a young female Tony Blair proselytiser who enjoys weekly debating competitions with her media friends. But Eleanor is forced to question her strongly held convictions when confronted by the family of the fallen soldier.
After last night’s performance, I was joined by Harry Darell and his ten-strong cast – Ashleigh Cole (who plays Eleanor), Lucia France, Arthur Velarde, Henry Eaton-Mercer, Greg Snowden, Ella May, Paula Cassina, Matt Weyland and, brothers onstage and off, Harry and Georgie Farmer – to discuss themes in the play and why, 17 years after the invasion of Iraq (and on Brexit eve), they take on new resonances in our polarised, social media-driven age.
We also discussed fun stuff including the challenges of a sand-filled set, the Victorian pool beneath the floor of the Bridewell Theatre, the proximity to Fleet Street, fraternal rivalry (and wrestling match commentary) and favourite debate topics (biscuits are hotly contested).
For the Sake of Argument runs at London’s Bridewell Theatre until 8 February 2020.
Event photography by Peter Jones.
How much do you know about Christopher Hitchens and the real young soldier he inspired to enlist in the Iraq War? Mark Jennings Daily was killed in Iraq in 2007, Hitchens died from cancer in 2011.