I was lucky enough to meet with the producer and directors of Cardiff University’s new production, ‘Genetically Modified Organism’ (GMO). You might have seen them on the Royal Mile staging a protest about the life of Amelia Fowler and demanding her death. With such an intriguing marketing technique, I was excited to find out more about ‘GMO’. Rob Maddison is the writer and director of this bold new production while Lucy Spain is the assistant director and choreographer, and Martin Newman and Dan Gammond produced the piece.
So, what’s ‘GMO’ about?
Newman: It’s a courtroom drama where the audience play the jury; everyday they decide the outcome of the play.
Maddison: It portrays a four year old girl, Amelia Fowler, who has been illegally genetically modified by her father, the piece presents a debate over whether or not she should live. Even though Amelia is only four I really wanted to give her a voice, she is represented in the piece as a teddy bear but an older version of her interacts with the audience but cannot be seen by the other characters.
The verdict is about the death of a four year old child
Spain: It blends naturalist theatre with physical theatre as well as projection and one character who is played solely as a voice over.
With such a sensitive topic, did you come across any moral issues in the writing?
Maddison: Yes, the piece is entirely focused on moral issues. The audience are deciding whether or not she should be killed. If Amelia remains alive then she sets a precedent for future genetic modification which could be a huge danger for humanity since it could be used in bio weaponry and a huge number of other things. If she is killed then it is the death of a young girl who is entirely innocent.
How are the audience responding so far, are they voting to kill Amelia or to keep her alive?
Maddison: Out of the three performances that we’ve done two of the audiences have voted innocent and one has voted guilty.
Spain: The verdict is about the death of a four year old child, I think if we were talking about a plant then no one would have a problem in viewing them as guilty but we’ve used age as a huge emotional factor to the decision.
With such a unique topic what was your motivation?
Maddison: I studied biochemistry at Cardiff University and did a specific module in this kind of technology. My lecturer was really excited about a recent breakthrough in the field and how revolutionary this could be.
So all the science in the show is accurate?
Maddison: Yes it’s very well researched. I’m really interested in combining science and theatre and people do know a little about GMO through genetically modified crops but this gives a lot more information.
Spain: It’s quite science-heavy in parts but is broken up through physical theatre and projection to make the science digestible.
‘GMO’ is on at Paradise in the Vault at 12:45 until 13th August