The Leopard and the Fox – Tariq Ali and the BBC

‘The Leopard and the Fox – Tariq Ali and the BBC’, an interview with Tariq Ali for Three Monkeys Online, August 2008

What do you think of ‘faction’ as a genre? In the case of The Leopard and the Fox it works well as an ‘unofficial’ history lesson. In the hands of a playwright with less integrity, though, the genre has the potential to be a highly effective propaganda tool—imagine for a moment a faction that depicts as real Tony Blair and George W.Bush uncovering a heinous plot by Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

It depends. Sometimes it can work very well especially if it’s highlighting materials that have been hidden from history. Its use as a propaganda tool is automatically circumscribed. It Never really works. In the hypothetical case you cite it would have been seen for what it was.

Let’s talk for a moment about your representation of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in the play. It’s a complex portrayal of a complex man. You don’t shy away from unsavoury aspects (for example vote-rigging, and elitism) of his political career, but he is very much the tragic hero of the play —a man who, through his own hubris, offends the Gods (or C.I.A), and is doomed, but for whom the audience is rooting. Isn’t this one of the limitations of the form, when using real-life characters, that one has to have heroes and villains for a drama to work? read more