Interview: Ahead of VETO’s Helter Skelter

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Ahead of their latest production, we caught up with Mike Narouei ahead of the new VETO production Helter Skelter. Article by Lewis Marriott

  1. Tell us what ‘Helter Skelter’ is about?

Helter Skelter explores how the underbelly of the hippie movement in the 1960s created an environment for young, vulnerable people to be easily led astray, especially those who sought out utopia away from the constraints of everyday society. This vulnerability made it especially easy for individuals, such as Charles Manson, to guide them into an isolated community and ultimately begin to manipulate them into doing as he asked.

2. Why is it called ‘Helter Skelter’?

‘Helter Skelter’ is a reference to the Beatles’ song from The White Album, and bears connotations to both Manson’s vision of an apocalyptic race war, widespread disorder, or as the Beatles initially intended, the popular fairground slide which spirals downwards.

3. What has the rehearsal process been like?

Intense. It’s been a long few months leading up to this, but we’re extremely excited to show everyone what we’ve been working on.

4. How has the piece evolved from when it was first performed at The Storey?

This iteration is a far more cohesive and ambitious than our first performance of the show. It addresses the 60s culture and explores the psychology of manipulation in far more depth.

5. What impact do you hope ‘Helter Skelter’ will have?

We want people to walk away asking the question, “Are people born monsters or moulded into them?”

6. Why should people come to see ‘Helter Skelter’?

Our story is one that hasn’t been explored on stage before, and its narrative is very engaging for anyone interested in not just theatre, but human psychology as a whole.

7. Is it challenging to perform such sensitive material?

It definitely is challenging. However, our cast and crew have done a lot of research into the history behind this story as well as into the mindset of the people involved, and as a team, we feel confident enough to portray these events on stage.

8. What inspired you to write a play about the Tate murders?

The Tate-LaBianca Murders serve as a backdrop to the narrative, with the main tragedy being how young people can easily be taken advantage of and used for one man’s personal gain.

9. Can you give a brief description of the characters?

The narrative follows Susan Atkins’ interrogation by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecution lawyer attempting to prove Manson’s involvement in the Tate-LaBianca Murders. Manson himself and other commune members appear as figments of Susan’s memory.

10. Was it always your intention to perform in larger space like The Grand?

In our two years as a company we have always tried to be more ambitious with every show, and now we feel confident that our work is ready for a larger audience, so we made contact with the Grand to pursue that goal.

For tickets to Helter Skelter on 5th November, head to Lancaster Grand and quote ‘Mason’ at the box office for a special SCAN discount!

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