THE HABIB SHOW is a political satire, presented in the format of a cabaret. It is a contemporary representation of a community’s response to the new terror laws. It is also a theatrical documentary which explores the impact these laws have on civil liberties.

Live music will sit alongside projections of documentary video and photographs, while actors perform theatrical characters and speak text from real people’s words in a piece of vibrant, engaging theatre. Stage images will be juxtaposed alongside recorded images to enhance meaning through a multimedia experience.

Since the war on terror was announced after September 11, Australia, responded with a series of new terror laws. These have a number of impacts on every citizen’s civil liberties. What has also arisen since 9/11 is a highly polarised political climate in which views are often one-dimensional versions of mediatised responses to world events. A very recent example of the airing of these has been through the release of Mamdouh Habib from Guantanamo Bay on the 28th of January 2005.

The documentary theatre outlined here, is the creation of a work that pays attention to witty, clever scripting as well as a highly theatrical performance style to engage theatre and non theatre audiences alike. To achieve this, two key areas are fundamental – structure and character. Characters will be selected from a range of public figures that are crucial to the debate, speaking their own words. At the same time, fictional characters will be developed that represent particular viewpoints. Their speech will be a selection of text from a range of sources, particularly gathered from interviews.

When the audience enter THE HABIB SHOW, they will probably expect to gain some valuable insight into the ‘truth’ behind the man, Mamdouh Habib. But what they will get instead will be representations of their imaginings of the man, fabricated versions of ‘the real Habib’. Habib the terrorist, Habib the hero, Habib the victim, Habib the hip hop star, Habib the family man, Habib the ASIO spy. Witnessing the various versions of Habib, the audience’s role will be that of judge and witness. Witness to the theatrical court of public opinion and judge of their own position in the debate. Ideally the audience will come away from this piece entertained first and foremost, but also challenged and asking questions of the new terror laws and their own position within the debate.

Habib’s absence from the debate will also be represented theatrically. He will exist as a disembodied presence from within each of the versions that make up the court of public opinion – the innocent man locked inside a cell which fills slowly with water, the terrorist lurking in the backyard or the spy waltzing along Palm Beach.

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