Capital Fringe 2014 Preview: ‘Interrogation’ by John Feffer


You are being watched.

If you’re not under surveillance because of your political views, then you are being tracked because of your economic activities. Or what you do on the web. Or what phone calls you make. Or who your friends are. Or what parts of the world you visit.

My new play Interrogation is about all the different ways that the National Security Agency, Google, Target, and others keep tabs on you. But cheer up: Interrogation is a comedy. Well, a dark comedy. Its subtitle could be: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the NSA.

The combination of surveillance for national security and economic reasons is something I call the surveillance blitz: “Each one of us is a quarterback,” I’ve written. “We’ve taken the snap. But two very large linebackers — the government and the corporations — have easily gotten around the blockers. This is the blitz. And suddenly we’re getting hit from two sides, and our privacy tumbles out of our hands as we go down. The linebackers pounce on the bouncing ball.”

You’ve probably heard about the case in which the father only learned about his daughter’s pregnancy when Target started sending her coupons for baby-related products. Like many other retailers, Target uses statistical marketing tools that determine from your past purchases what you are likely to buy in the future. Similarly with micro-targeting, Facebook and other sites direct advertisers to you based on your browsing history.

The NSA is a different creature. It snoops in on your phone metadata (whom you call, for how long). It looks at the content of emails. It has even installed bugs on 100,000 computers around the world. The disclosures last year of Edward Snowden “portray an insatiable agency that has sought to collect as much information as it possibly can, most of it relying on secret interpretations of law, often exploiting the fact that the law has not caught up to technology,” writes David Cole.

Interrogation is all about this new world of surveillance cameras and GPS locators and omnipresent social media. It’s a cautionary tale – with door prizes.

Interrogation is my sixth Fringe production in six years. It also marks my return to the stage as a performer after a two-year hiatus.

John Feffer.
John Feffer.

My previous shows – Krapp’s Last Power Point, Edible Rex, The Bird, The Pundit, and The Politician – have all played to packed houses and received favorable reviews. Last year, DC Metro Arts called The Politician “a riveting production and highly recommended.” The Washington Post said that The Pundit “deflates its target with a sharp satiric pin,” and the Washington City Paper wrote “Feffer is a brilliant writer and performer” in its review of Edible Rex.

In my day job, I’m a foreign policy analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington, DC thinktank. I was recently an Open Society Foundation fellow looking at Eastern Europe 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. My latest book, Crusade 2.0, was recently released by City Lights Books & was highlighted on CSPAN BookTV in May 2012. My article “My Backlogged Pages,” was published in The New York Times, an excerpt from Edible Rex & my article on Jeju Island were both published by The Washington Post, and my article on participatory totalitarianism recently went semi-viral.

For more information about Interrogation, visit our webpage. And like us on Facebook.


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