Behaviour Festival: Hate Radio @ The Arches

Review by Eric Karoulla | 25 Mar 2014
  • Hate Radio @ The Arches

In 1994, within three months, Hutu extremists had brought about the deaths of an estimated eight hundred thousand to one million Tutsi, and thousands of moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Twenty years later, The International Institute of Political Murder presents Hate Radio, which gives a face to the voices behind the radio station RTLM (Radio -Télévision Libre des Mille Collines). The programme notes claim this radio station was "the most powerful instrument of the genocide."

The intelligently constructed play is framed on either side - at the start and end - by video testimonies of survivors. While the videos are short, they seem to counter-balance the main body of the live part of the show, which takes place in a glass box replicating the RTLM studio, perhaps to serve as a grim reminder of the horrors this hate-speech has incited. Mixing international news, sports coverage, pop music with local propaganda and extremist commentary, the presenters don't hide their disgust and disdain for the inyenzi (a Kinyarwanda word meaning 'cockroach', often used to describe the Tutsi) and openly encourage their listeners to kill and exterminate this "infestation." 

The premise of a radio show seems innocent enough, and no violence is re-enacted onstage, in spite of the very obvious presence of guns. While it could be said that it's difficult to make the imaginative leap as to who would tune in and share this ideology, director and scriptwriter Milo Rau facilitates this by giving each audience member an individual radio with earphones to listen in.

The final message is quite terrifying - although bizarrely, it sounds quite realistic rather than unduly optimistic: this genocide is not the only one, not an isolated event, and there will be more. Quite obvious at times, yet amazingly intricate when deconstructed as a play, Hate Radio appears to suggest there is something innate in human nature that allows for genocide.  And that makes all of us responsible. 

Run ended.

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