MD Theatre Guide: This is your directorial debut at Mosaic. What drew you to this particular theatre company?
Logan Vaughn: I met Ari Roth (founding artistic director) directing a workshop. He introduced himself, and told me about the theatre and its mission. I liked the bold, diverse, global work it’s doing, and I liked the idea that it was a new theatre committed to producing new plays.
MDTG: What attracted you to this play?
LV: I had heard of a production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It sounded like a really interesting piece. So, when Ari brought the play to my attention, I was very excited to read it.
MDTG: What surprised you about the play?
LV: Eugene De Kock, nicknamed “Prime Evil,” was a household name in South Africa. He had served as commanding officer of a counter-insurgency unit of the South African Police that kidnapped, tortured, and murdered many anti-Apartheid activists. So, I asked myself, how I could not have heard of him? I didn’t learn about Apartheid in school till my high-school years, though my parents spoke of it. Still, I wasn’t grasping it – what people went through on a day-to-day basis and the scale of people lost. Apartheid was really an attempt at genocide.
MDTG: Tell us about the relationship between the main characters.
LV: It’s a two-character play, though this production also includes a non-speaking role – of a prison guard. Erica Chamblee plays Pumla Gobodo-Madizikela, a psychologist on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Board post-Apartheid who comes to interview De Kock in prison; he is portrayed by Chris Genebach. These two individuals become acquainted over a period of at least five years. They spend a lot of time together. Many times they are really connecting, becoming “uncovered” with one another. Pumla attempts to be professional, but how much she reveals herself varies. De Kock becomes less manipulative, but also shows how he became a trained killer. They both learn to become their fully authentic selves with each other and find comfort in that. Theirs is special, but unexpected relationship. They change each other.
MDTG: What is Pumla’s goal in meeting with De Kock?
LV: She’s an extremely empathetic and open woman who truly wants to understand who he is and what motivates him, to allow him to have a voice, when people would not allow him to. It takes a unique individual to control her reaction to hearing such atrocities. It turns out that he and his brother had been trained to be killers as early as age 7.
MDTG: What does the play’s title mean?
LV: That will reveal itself during the play.
“A Human Being Died that Night,” based on the book of the same name by Yumla Gobodo-Madizkela and adapted into a play by Nicholas Wright, will be presented at Mosaic Theater April 9-30. It is playing in rep with a second South African-themed work, Blood Knot, by Athol Fugard, Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE, Washington DC 20002 Box Office: 202-399-7993, ext. 2, or www.mosaictheater.org/tickets.