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Music is Torture

Music is Torture, photo by Mihaela Bodlovic

Music is Torture is a dark comedy set in Limbo Recording Studios featuring live music and new songs by Glasgow Art-poppers ‘A Band Called Quinn’ who appear in the show as the band Dawnings.

Touring to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness from 18 May to 1 June, this new piece of gig theatre tells the story of a struggling music producer, Jake, who discovers that his music is being used to torture political prisoners and charts his ensuing moral dilemma. Essentially a show about selling out, while also reflecting on how people respond to global conflict and how people respond to fear of terrorism.  

Music Is Torture was written by singer/ songwriter Louise Quinn and directed by Grid Iron’s Co-Artistic Director Ben Harrison. The piece is inspired by the research of Berlin-based Scottish musicologist Dr. M. J. Grant into the use of music to promote, facilitate and accompany violent response to conflict. Here writer Louise Quinn, Director Ben Harrison and musicologist Dr. M.J. Grant tells us more about the play…

Musicologist Dr. M. J. Grant: “It can be difficult to get the message out about the reality of torture, especially when it comes to forms such as music torture that to the uninitiated might seem like a joke. This is why artistic treatments of the subject are so important: they can convey much that is important without the whole thing becoming voyeuristic or unduly harrowing. I’m excited about this show not just because of the way it explores the psychological mechanisms of torture in a subtle but effective way, but because it draws attention to our own responsibility for the continued use of torture in today’s world.

Music Is Torture Trailer from Tromolo Productions on Vimeo.

Playwright Louise Quinn: “When Morag told me about her research we were working on Biding Time (remix) which raised issues about art versus commerce. As an artist I found it hard to comprehend music being used in such a way and when I researched artist’s responses to their music being used to torture political prisoners, I got an idea for a script. Every day it seems to be more relevant and reflective of what’s happening in the world today; a disenfranchised protagonist who is torn between morality and self interest.”    

Director Ben Harrison added: “Music is Torture interrogates our complicity in acts of torture but does so in the most shockingly comic way. The Faustian dilemma at the heart of the piece- should I benefit directly from the sufferings of others - is presented with great wit and dark humour making parallels between the metaphorically torturous act of creation and the real torture of political prisoners. The live room as a metaphor for the torture chamber is a powerful and resonant image, articulating our globalised and hyper-connected world, made all the more resonant as the show is based on real events.”

Music is Torture, photo: John Cooper


A Band Called Quinn appear in Music is Torture as DAWNINGS, and will be releasing music from the production. Have a listen to tracks, including first single Activate It, now:


18, 19 & 20 May - Tron Theatre, Glasgow
25, 26 & 27 May -  Traverse, Edinburgh
1 June - Eden Court, Inverness

@tromproductions | #MusicIsTorture | http://www.tromoloproductions.com

Image credits: Mihaela Bodlovic and John Cooper

Music is Torture is funded by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund and by The Space. A Co-production with Tron Theatre.

This article was published on 08 May 2017