In December 2011 Pentagon officials watched video footage from a drone. A huddle of people – unarmed smugglers, with mules – trod their familiar path across the Turkish-Iraqi border. Hours later, Turkish Armed Forces drop bombs on the group killing 34 civilians.
The Roboski massacre was one of the most controversial episodes in the ‘war on terror’.
Piecing together the fragments of the tragedy, Anders Lustgarten’s startling new play, Shrapnel: 34 Fragments of a Massacre, dares to ask questions and probe the story behind the outrage.
It opens at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston, in London, on March 11.
Shrapnel: 34 Fragments of a Massacre is a story of malicious commands and gives a powerful insight into the state of modern warfare.
It is the first of two urgent political plays directed by Arcola’s artistic director Mehmet Ergen in the current season. The second, Clarion, by former Fleet Street journalist Mark Jagasia, is an urgent black comedy about free speech, nationalism and the state of the British media. It opens in April.
Anders Lustgarten said: “I used to work for a Kurdish human rights group, and I want the victims of the Roboski killings to have the voice they’ve been denied.
“But I also want to ask a pointed question: who’s responsible for a massacre?
“Is it only the soldier who presses the button or fires the shots? What about the politicians who can’t inspire with anything except hatred? The media that plays along, fulminating or fearful? The nerdy technocrats who make the bombs and clock off at 5pm?
“This story could be about Gaza, or Iraq, or any of the many modern assaults on poor people by industrialised societies. It’s a play, fundamentally, about complicity.”
Mehmet Ergen added: “This is the first of two powerful political plays receiving their world premieres in the Arcola’s new season.
“Clarion will question the state of the British media; Shrapnel the state of modern warfare. Both are vital and urgent subjects, especially in the run up to the general election.”
Cast: Tuncay Akpınar, Josef Altin, Karina Fernandez, David Kirkbride, Aslam Percival Husain, Ryan Wichert.
Shrapnel: 34 Fragments of a Massacre runs from March 11 – April 2.