Coming to Bridewell Theatre in the New Year, For the Sake of Argument follows the story of Eleanor Hickock, a passionate and argumentative polemical journalist who becomes the Iraq War’s chief evangelist. This hard-hitting production interrogates the power and danger of language, as one journalist’s words send a young man to enlist for the frontline.
For Eleanor, conversations are a battleground and words are tools for manipulation. Her disputatious stance on the 2003 invasion persuades one reader, Mark, to enlist. When Mark’s mother seeks out the journalist who convinced her son to die for his country, sparks fly and violent confrontations ensue. Eleanor is faced with a family who mourn the loss of a son and a brother and is asked to answer for it.
In our world of clickbait and instantaneous reaction on social media, people formulate entire concrete beliefs based on 240 characters and the headlines of pieces they have barely paid attention to. This play looks to promote the value of compassion and understanding, highlighting the dangers of flippantly taking radical positions on important issues. It discusses the need for full context and warns of the dangers of offhand comments which can become tenants of a belief. It encourages patience rather than knee-jerk reaction.
Writer Harry Darell commented: “This play is a particularly important story to tell now for a number of reasons. The first is that it revolves around language and its potentially dangerous use. The play is set in a period just before the explosion of certain technologies such as the Smartphone and before social media became mainstream. Nevertheless, Eleanor’s writings and television appearances were still able to snatch an entirely ‘unmilitary’ young man from a regular life and convince him of the importance of a certain conflict. Now, we can see this effect occur on a much larger scale, with a significantly wider net. Young people are being presented with apparently convincing arguments to carry out much more dangerous and illegitimate activities.”
For the Sake of Argument is playing at the Bridewell Theatre from Tuesday 28 January – Saturday 8 February.