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James Graham interview - ‘Since Trump got elected, I’ve wanted to write a play about truth’
While on the face of it James Graham’s play Quiz is about gameshows and cheating, the playwright says he has been encouraged to write a play about truth since the election of Donald Trump.
Speaking before the opening of Quiz, which examines the Charles Ingram Millionaire scandal, Graham said: “I remember this story captivating me as an 18-year-old, so I was thrilled to dramatise this. But there was a niggle in my head ever since the Trump election and the referendum, the nature of truth changing is something I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time.”
What Graham has done to get his point across is to put the audience at the centre of the production, allowing them to make up their own minds about the Ingrams' fate, and whether they coughed their way to £1million on the ITV gameshow.
“Quiz is all about truth and reality. The audience are simultaneously in a TV studios, they’re members of a jury, they’re members of a democracy. We’ve mobilised the audience to participate in an examination of truth. Can you know anything anymore?”
"The joy of theatre is always watching something live with a community of people, not sitting on your own in your bedroom watching Netflix"
During the show, audience members not only participate in ‘Ask the Audience’ moments of the Millionaire game, they vote for whether they think those on trial are guilty, but are also invited on stage to participate in recreations of famous British shows.
“For some reason we’re a big fan on them in the UK,” Graham told LondonTheatre.co.uk. “I was obsessed with trying to get on The Price is Right. The idea of doing these gameshows in a theatre with a live audience tickled me. The joy of theatre is always watching something live with a community of people, not sitting on your own in your bedroom watching Netflix.”
Has he written a play with so much interaction in it before?
"I did a show at the Donmar called Privacy, and that involved having the audience on their phones examining their privacy settings. But I’ve never had people doing a pub quiz very night, which makes me nervous because you can’t control how they’re going to react. But that’s how it should be, theatre is exciting."
Quiz Tickets are available now.