The lifespan of a fact | The A List
Is a truth that has been stretched, a lie? And is an exaggeration a lie, or could it still be truthful? Or, might it be a truthful lie? These intriguing questions, about where the line between fact and truth is drawn, swirl at our interview with the cast of the play, Lifespan of a Fact.
The play is inspired by real events, specifically, a battle of pure facts and poetic truths between Jim Fingal, a fresh graduate from Harvard working as a fact-checker for a magazine, and John D’Agata, an essayist who writes about the suicide of a teenage boy.
The play, based on a book of the same title, is staged by the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT) at KC Arts Centre until 14 March. In the realm of facts and truths, where does theatre stand?
Actor Ghafir Akbar, who plays John D’Agata in the production, says: “Theatre is constructing a reality that doesn’t exist outside. We’re creating a world full of reality in a very fictional world, taking things that aren’t real and also real, and creating something that is impactful and palpable.”
Actor Janice Koh, who plays the role of the magazine’s editor Emily Penrose, adds that the whole magic of theatre lies in how it invites the audience to suspend their disbelief and slip into the shoes of another to see the world through a different lens.
For actor Jamil Schulze, who plays Jim Fingal, the clash between make-belief and personal belief, however, has been unsettling. He confesses that he doesn’t quite see eye-to-eye with the character he plays. He is more of a John D’Agata himself.
Against shades of grey, between pure facts and poetic truths, there is a clear point the play seeks to drive home: In this age of viral fake news, remain non-cynical and check your sources. Also central to the play – human drama.
While the debate around facts and truths drive dialogue in the show, it is the drama that reigns – the tug-of-war between the characters, and at the very core of the play, the suicide of a teenage boy, whose voice must not be forgotten.