The Price of Privacy
Oct 7, 2017

Via Gatopardo – This fall, the Insurgentes Theater is transformed into a playground where actors Diego Luna and Luis Gerardo Méndez will alternate characters in the staging of Privacy, directed by Francisco Franco. It is a work that puts before the eyes of the viewer an informed conversation about the digitization of society, the power of technology and the fear of government cyberspace.

Based on the original screenplay by Britain’s James Graham, Privacy is part of the story of a writer – interpreted alternately by Luna and Mendez – who reflects on the hyperconnected society in which he lives. Through its interaction with expert voices in the subject and a bit like documentary theater, the protagonist explores the risks and benefits of a technological life in which both companies and governmental authorities have access to the information of individuals.

It opens in Mexico months after a newspaper investigation revealed the suspicion of cyberspace to journalists, activists and human rights defenders by the Mexican government, through Pegasus, software originally designed for anti-terrorist activities. Although the work has been in development since before the Pegasus case, both Luna and Méndez – both producers of the work along with Franco and Claudio Carrera – find the conjuncture coincidence to put the finger on the sore.

“It would be nonsense to do theater that did not have to do with you and the reality in which you live, and that did not have a reflection on what concerns you at that moment,” says Diego Luna , who has long openly supported anti-corruption organizations and that has been pronounced on more than one occasion against the abuses of the authorities in Mexico. “We have reached a point where we are urged to put a brake and see how much we are using technology and how much is using us,” he adds. “We read the original work and we thought ‘how will we do this in Mexico to have resonance?’ Suddenly, one day I read the news about Pegasus and said, ‘Oh, you bastard, the play is already a fact. What’s going on here?’.”

Both in its original version – staged in London in 2014 – and in its second setting – on Broadway in 2016 – Privacy has been closely connected to the local context. Its thematic nature implies that each adaptation is a rewriting that places the story in the exact location and moment where it is assembled. To place it in the Insurgentes Theater, in Mexico City, a deep “Mexicanization” was required by María Reneé Prudencio. Without being a tropicalization, the text will address local concerns about online privacy and the influence of the use of the internet and gadgets in everyday life.

“It is a playful reflection, but also somber, about where we are going,” says Francisco Franco. “That future that awaits us and that we see in fiction series that are already a real reality.” To add a digital touch to the paranoia transmitted by the text, the audience’s cell phones will become a way of interaction between them and the protagonist, so, contrary to the theatrical label, it is recommended to keep your smartphone on during the play.

“It is very strong to realize that the information can turn against you, information that you have made public, which to you has seemed important to share. Many times it is something that nobody cares about and only exposes us, “concludes Luis Gerardo Méndez.