Nathan Narusis is new to playwriting and he’s taking on a huge topic: the move towards a cashless society. The CBC recently reported that Sweden is already well on its way, stating that “less than half of bank branches in the country now handle cash.” Nathan foresees a darker side of a cashless society than just seniors struggling to adapt. He told us more about it, and how his script has come together for the upcoming production of Cashless, on May 1-5 at Havana Theatre.
Theatre Wire: Tell us about your script. What’s the gist of the story?
Nathan Narusis: As paper money is about to be outlawed, one man worries about whether this might quickly allow full dictatorship. While he struggles with how to resist a dark future, his girlfriend, boss, and best friend all pressure him to act against his better judgment in other areas of his life.
What inspired you to write this show?
Over the last five to 10 years I noticed merchants increasingly frown on cash by carrying smaller floats, refusing large bills etc. Banks are also slowly killing paper money in various ways. I tried to illustrate how the world might drastically change once cash is completely gone. Also, I sought to show the personality types who might struggle to stop such a future from happening.
Is the story based in a true event?
No, cash is still accepted just about everywhere. Cashless is a work of “science fiction” or “speculative fiction.”
Did you conduct any research in order to write this play? Tell us about what you researched.
I reviewed global trends towards the complete denial of cash for transactions. Some countries are more restrictive than Canada, some are less restrictive, but the overall drift is very clear. At some point in the next 10 years, unless public opinion changes radically, the use of cash will be banned.
Did you read your script aloud while editing to ensure that it sounds like people actually speaking?
I read it aloud to time the length of the scenes so that I could aim for an 80-minute play, but in the process, hearing my words helped me improve dialogue in some places.
How difficult is it to hand over your script to directors and actors?
Very, very difficult. I guess that is what parents feel sending their child off to the first day of school. They have tried to instill good ideas and a noble spirit, but now their kid may start picking up other people’s habits, good and bad. Hopefully a stronger, smarter being will emerge.
Have you ever been shocked or surprised by someone’s interpretation?
Yes. Sometimes delightfully, sensing how much better it made my play.
What’s the best thing about being a playwright?
The satisfaction of putting the final polish on a scene. I confess, when I thought of a possible improvement to a line while doing the dishes or shaving, I often ended up re-reading the whole scene after making the fix because I have so fallen in love with what I have written.
Which other playwrights or writers inspire you?
Edmond Rostand (Cyrano De Bergerac), Henrik Ibsen (Enemy of the People), Robert A. Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land), and Andrew Bernstein (Heart of a Pagan), to name a few.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about this show or yourself?
I seek to leave audiences with altered outlooks on topics long considered settled. If we stop searching for truth, the human spirit withers and dies.
Cashless runs May 1-5 at Havana Theatre, located at 1212 Commercial Drive. Buy tickets now, or purchase tickets to this show and two more and your tickets are automatically discounted to Subscription rates! Check out all the shows that are part of the Subscription here.