by Phil Davies
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Cast: 14f 11m plus 11f/m
A stark, fast-paced and fraught play about political upheaval and the media’s relationship with civil violence and terrorism in modern Britain.
A peaceful politician is slain on the streets of Vida’s hometown. Reeling from the tragedy, Vida embarks on an increasingly dangerous mission to confront the rise in bigotry and fascism.
But just as she feels most alone, she discovers there are others who feel the same as her – and now the deadly potential of their combined power is about to be unleashed.
Landmines was first performed at Ovalhouse, produced through the BRIT School’s training initiative, The Bridge Company.
Content guidance: This play contains very strong language, references to drug use, sexual activity and violence, onstage portrayals of violence, and explorations of adult themes including racism.
About the author
Phil Davies is a playwright and screenwriter. His debut play Firebird premiered at the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs and subsequently transferred to Trafalgar Studios. Other theatre work includes short play How to Not Murder (Arcola Theatre, dir. Ned Bennett); Up the Dale (Royal Exchange Theatre and Queen Elizabeth Hall for Paines Plough); Adjusted (Interplay Europe, Utrecht) and The Makings (ATG, dir. Sarah Dickinson).
For radio, Phil has written The Punjab (BBC Radio 4) and Girl X was a winner at the BBC’s 2016 Alfred Bradley Bursary Awards. Phil is currently under commission to Sky to write the scripts for The Few, a new police drama he has created with Minnow Films, inspired by the award-winning BBC documentary series The Detectives. He is also developing drama The Loss Adjusters with Warp Films and has written the pilot episode of Amsterdam-based drama Posthumus for Endor Films.
Phil trained at the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme where he developed his first script A Leg and a Wing which won the Rod Hall Memorial Award. In addition to writing, Phil works alongside Synergy Theatre Project developing scripts with inmates in prisons and Young Offender Institutions.
Interview with Phil Davies
Landmines is in part about how difficult it is to be a good person in an interconnected and corrupt world. What was it like rehearsing and discussing these issues with a young company?
We were creating the play at a time when it was increasingly difficult to see how to affect change. The referendum showed us that in contemporary politics the ‘winners’ would be those who had the best understanding of tech and data – and we wanted to investigate to what extent an individual could sabotage that, or at least harness its potential to their own ends. We wanted to somehow find some hope within what was, essentially, a collective sense of hopelessness. (SPOILER: We failed...)
Was the play inspired by any real life events?
Actually there were two events that occurred within 48 hours of each other that fuelled our early discussions – the murder of Jo Cox (16 June 2016) and the attempted assassination of Donald Trump in Las Vegas by Michael Sandford (18 June 2016). We were deeply upset by Jo Cox’s murder, and in examining the possible root causes we found common ground with our thoughts about the wildly out-of-control spread of misinformation and hatred. And then Michael Sandford’s failed act filled our heads with the question ‘What if...?’.
The play features multiple contrasting storylines. How did you give importance to each story and character?
Being gifted more than a dozen brilliant actors to make a play with is a beautiful thing – and so was the responsibility of ensuring they all have roles that allow them to demonstrate their potential. They had a stake in the play from the very start so it was always a conscious consideration to try to make sure they felt it reflected their diversity of views and ideas.
Do you have any advice for actors performing the play, or for directors staging it?
As someone whose span of theatrical experience begins and ends with the written word, I wouldn’t dream of offering advice to actors or directors – other than to enjoy: no matter what a play’s about, find the joy in the process of putting it on.