THEATER THREE COLLABORATIVE / KAREN MALPEDE & GEORGE BARTENIEFF
“Another Life,” written and directed by Karen Malpede, is the only North American drama about the US torture program as it played itself out in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Beginning on September 11, 2001, “Another Life” is the story of the war mogul Handel, played by George Bartenieff, as he recognizes and relishes his ability to become richer by creating the private contracting firm Deepwater. Handel takes as a domestic prisoner the hapless livery cab driver, and undocumented refugee, Abdul, who rescues Handel’s adopted Chinese daughter, Lucia, and brings her to Handel’s loft apartment. Handel hires former F.B.I. interrogator, David Abbas, an Arab American, to run Deepwater, on the promise that he can run interrogations without torture. When Handel’s wife, Tess, a former prostitute from Chechnya becomes close to Abdul, Handel imprisons them both, creating a mini-Guantanamo at home. Lucia, in grief over the death of her fiancé Geoff, a union organizer who leapt from the burning tower (he appears as a ghost throughout), suffers a miscarriage. Later, she is enticed by her father to go as a physician to Afghanistan where she becomes implicated as the medical officer in the torture of a “high value” detainee, Abu Zubayda, at Bagram Air Force Base. David Abbas, head interrogator for Deepwater, finds himself taking orders directly from Donald Rumsfeld. Later, in Iraq, David Abbas gives Lucia access to a hidden black site prison and Lucia ultimately becomes a whistle blower about the US torture program, leaking the confidential Red Cross Report to the press. Surreal, satiric and poetic, “Another Life” is based completely upon fact.
Always surrounded with A Festival of Conscience, “Another Life” performances became a forum for exchange of information between the audience who has just seen the play and noted human rights lawyers, writers, and activists. “Another Life” was work-shopped at the National Theater of Kosovo, June 12, 2011 and on September 8-11, 2011 as a centerpiece of the Art of Justice: 9/11 Performance Project at John Jay College of Criminal Justice before its premiere performances on March 8-12, 2012. An excerpt from the play was published by the Kenyon Review.