What was the inspiration behind Silo?
During the first pandemic, I was getting updates on my father’s health whilst living in London. The moment he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I dropped everything and moved back to Devon. Legally, I shouldn’t have. But of course, this was infinitely more important to me. And it got me wondering what I would have done if I couldn’t get back to him.
In the story, pandemics have become a regular part of life. The play feels semi-apocalyptic. Does Silo make any statements about the state of the world?
Absolutely. I think like most people, I got hooked on the news for a couple of years. In fact, since Brexit, Trump’s infamous refusal to accept defeat, and Covid, I started watching it religiously. And the level that supposed “world leaders” have been allowed to operate at, getting away with clear corruption so brazenly, and so often, is horrifying. Often, politics is cyclical, and we go through terrible time before we find a safe place again. But I do sense we’re running out of lifelines, and that irreparable damage is closer than we’d like to believe.
Silo is a rather feminine robot. Was there a conscious reason for writing her this way?
The strength that women show, consistently, historically, and now in the modern world, is something that never fails to inspire me. Although we probably are closer to equality than ever before, women still have so much to contest with just to be seen as even. From what I see, they have to be smarter than men, and certainly more patient, just to instigate the same opportunities, and so I wanted Silo to be a woman to reflect that. There’s an irony that mankind turns to technology for answers, yet the moment they feel threatened by it, they shut it down and destroy it. I feel like men who display toxic masculinity act this way towards women, and so Silo being a woman just seemed to fit the narrative perfectly.
The play focuses on a strained relationship between a father and his son. Do you find male-on-male relationships particularly challenging?
Of course. Society has always made it hard for men to openly enjoy other men in the way they probably want to. You grow up telling yourself that intimacy is not to be shared by two men, and it causes huge communicational problems as an adult. I tell you now, if I had my life again I would have hugged my dad and told him I loved him every time we were together. Instead, we probably did that on just a handful of occasions. So many years get lost because you resist these feelings, and it’s such a shame.
It seems that both men are able to communicate better through Silo than in person. Do you think this reflects our relationship with technology?
Technology has filled a lot of voids. People are now having relationships with AI apps, and in a way, I can kind of see why that’s happening. And someone can text/talk more to friends in other parts of the world than they do to family members sat in the same room. So as incredible as technology can be, it does often act as a barrier to traditional friendships. We are simply more used to communicating with machines now. Maybe it’s easier because they’re not human. So ironically in the play, both men do communicate better by talking through Silo. This is where the play got its name, because the was created to perform tasks and not be distracted by the spectrum of human emotions. So it’s very interesting when we see the robot evoke more emotion from the people around it.
What three words would you use to sum up Silo?
Engaging, evocative, layered.
Why should people come to see the show?
Out of all the play I’ve written, I have a real soft spot for Silo. Although I wrote it as my dad was dying, every time I read it or see it performed, I walk away feeling positively stirred, uplifted, and like I want to make it clear how much I love those that are closest to me. It’s important to feel that way, and to remind yourself to act on it, no matter how much the burdens of life try to get in the way.
We’d like to thank Jody for taking the time to speak to us and can’t wait for Silo to begin its 5-day run in North Devon. The play will show at The Plough Arts Centre from 15-16 June, and then The Queen’s Theatre from 23-25 June 2023.
* Please note that anyone who comes to see the play can get a copy of Spectrum for half price, making it £4.99 instead of £9.99. Simply keep hold of your theatre ticket and present it when buying the book in the foyer.