«Punishment for what?»

Neil LaBute / Thomas Oberender
Tuesday, December 10, 2002



Thomas Oberender: What you say in regard to the concept of sin sounds very convincing. You say it’s «a voice inside oneself» that tells us directly what is good and what is bad. But Woyzeck also hears a voice in his head. Don’t your plays rather point into the direction that the human being is delinquent in his or her acting in a way that surpasses the misdemeanour in the sense of human and legal terms?

Neil LaBute: well, just because that ‘still, small voice’ is telling us what to do doesn’t mean that we’re going to listen to it. not at all. people can shout right in our face and we don’t listen, so what chance does that tiny voice of conscience have? our morality is made up of so many splintered parts—ideas borrowed from our parents, ingrained concepts from television and books, etc.—that we are constantly reshaping it and reconsidering our position on issues all the time.

i think my plays point toward the moral minefield that most people try to negotiate. any landscape can be covered with mines—a field of sunflowers or a barren landscape. my interests lie in how we negotiate these minefields, given the information we have and our personal interests. some of us make it, some don’t. i’m most intrigued with the journey and whether we fall back on the morality we’ve created for ourselves or if we are willing to shift everything we believe in, simply to survive. as for woyzeck, he was pretty crazy…but that’s what happens when you eat peas all the time. however, like most crazy people, he has great moments of complete clarity.