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Playing Dick Cheney on the London Stage

Funny the way things go.  A week ago I was penniless, sleeping in a cardboard box in a London street, and wondering what the hell to do with my life.  Now, thanks to a collection fund organized by some of my ex-students in Istanbul, money problems have been allayed; I’m moving into an attractive former polytechnic Assembly Hall built in 1929, on a future  demolition list, but currently squatted by a group of young Poles who’ve invited me to join them; and I’m rehearsing the role of Dick Cheney in a play called ‘We, Macbeth’ which is due to open at a London theatre on 14th January.

How I got the latter was a a bit of luck.  Last Friday morning while I was having breakfast a policewoman knocked on my cardboard box to enquire my name and identification.  Checking me on her police phone, she asked if I had lived at the Peace Camp in Parliament Square (where I was last arrested in 2011 for shouting “No More War!” during the 2 minute silence on Memorial Sunday.) I affirmed.  So they’re on to me.

In the afternoon, while on my way to visit a Citizen’s Advice Bureau to find out about housing assistance (t‘aint easy living in a box!) I came across a big old red brick building with a notice board outside identifying itself as ‘Theatro Technis’, a famous London Fringe theatre founded by Cypriot actor/director George Eugeniou in 1957, shortly after his collaboration with Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in Stratford East.  Eugeniou’s philosophy on theatre is to break barriers between nationalities, religions, genders, sexual orientations, classes, ages and languages.

Looking at other notices on the board, I saw that their next play, ‘We, Macbeth’, was currently in rehearsal, and that they were still looking for actors. I read the blurb for the play.

“In November 1963, sinister elements of the U.S. Government assassinated President Kennedy in broad daylight in Dallas. The men who accomplished this brazen hit never relinquished the power they gained from it. Here for the first time – in “We, MacBeth” – these men explain their motives and aspirations and defend their values against a Rooseveltian “Ami du Peuple,” who resists their corporate power and pleads for the dignity and responsibility of the Common Man.  The stakes could not be higher for the ordinary American citizen, who over the course of fifty years is transformed against his will – under the pressure of coercion, blandishment and manipulation – into a robotic and blinkered patriot.”

I decided to try my luck, and rang the front door bell.  I’m nearly an old man now, but acting’s still in my blood.  I trained and worked as an actor in England in the seventies, and I’ve written a few plays since then.  This sounded the kind of play for me.  I was invited in, taken down the corridor and through a tiny courtyard to the large black hall of a theatre where rehearsal was in progress.  George Eugeniou, a small white-bearded man dressed in black encouraged the cast with passion as they struggled with their and lines and accents in a play that exposes the dark dealings of the CIA and the American political elite.  Characters such as Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and George Bush senior and junior manipulate and are manipulated in the ruthless struggle for power and world domination.

After being introduced to George, I was given the small part of Nixon’s secretary, Halderman to read, but at rehearsals next day, after standing in for an absent actor I was offered the role of Dick Cheney in the third act.  The original actor was initially upset about the news, but we have since arranged that I will play the character in the first week of the run, he the second, and we will alternate in the third and final week.  Here’s a trailer for the play

As yet we have to meet the author, the mysterious well-informed James Hepburn.  Rumour has it that he is a she?  All will be revealed when he/she visits the rehearsal on Saturday.

“Just say the lines and don’t bump into the furniture,” was Noel Coward’s advice to his actors.  When you’re playing a character as ruthless and despicable as Dick Cheney, a man who sanctioned kidnappings, renditions, and assassinations, who instructed the CIA and military to torture thousands of people, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and the displacement of millions of refugees, as well as the death and injuries of  thousands of U.S. service members, perhaps it’s advice worth taking if you want to save your sanity.

The following is a speech from the third act of the play by Cheney as he reveals his plan for the 9/11 conspiracy, minus asides and comments from other characters.  Enough said.  I’m still learning the lines.  And trying not to bump into the furniture.

“The fall of Soviet Communism was a disaster for the governing interests of this country for one simple reason: It eliminated the need to be at war. Without war we grow poorer while ordinary Americans grow richer. This is an untenable situation. It has therefore become necessary to find a new enemy of the American people, an enemy they can fight indefinitely, into a future without end. After considering several different options we’ve chosen Islam as that enemy.

As we all know, the only way to get Americans into war is to arrange for them to be attacked. Two types of arrangements are possible: attacking them ourselves of standing down while others do it. The USS Maine, Operation NORTHWOODS, and the Gulf of Tonkin are all examples of the former. Pearl Harbour, an example of the latter. Unlike the Japanese, the Muslims don’t have the wherewithal to attack us. So we will have to do the job ourselves, using them as patsies. We’ve put together an ensemble plan modelled on the Kennedy killing. In that case, CIA anchored the plot with assistance from the Mob and the Israelis. In the current case, CIA and military intel will anchor, with assistance from the Saudis and the Israelis. U.S. intelligence, as overseen by my office, will engineer a stand-down of miltary defence on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. on a date in early September of this year. This standdown will enable two planes, hijacked out of Boston, to crash into the two largest towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. The hijackers will be Saudi nationals who believe they are working for us.

After the planes have struck the Twin Towers, and while the towers are still burning, nano-thermitic bombs will be detonated that will result in the controlled implosion of both buildings. The Israelis will wire the buildings for implosion in August of this year. Everybody will assume that the towers come down because of the planes. No other explanation will be apparent. Some people may see or hear evidence of explosions, but most won’t notice anything other than the damage caused by the planes. In addition to the Twin Towers, a third tower will be imploded during the operation: World Trade Center 7. Building 7 houses the law enforcement files on a host of our most powerful companies being investigated for fraud. Those files must be destroyed.

The great majority won’t even know a third tower falls that day.  They won’t know because the media won’t tell them.  We’ll see to that.”

 Michael Dickinson can be contacted at his website http://yabanji.tripod.com/

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Michael Dickinson can be contacted at michaelyabanji@gmail.com.

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