Selection announcement!

It took us longer than anticipated to go through them 157 submissions but we’ve finally selected the three plays that will be workshopped early next year and presented as readings in February.  

They are:

Genesis, by Chiara Boscaro

La mer est ma nation, by Hala Moughanie

Terres Closes. by Simon Grangeat

These plays will be presented as staged readings at the Arcola Theatre on the 5th 6th and 7th of February at 1.30PM

We also would love to give a “special mention” to four writers whose work didn’t make the final selection but was certainly outstanding:

Welcome to Bulgaria, by Zdrava Kamenova and Gergana Dimitrova

Orli, by Tino Caspanello

Un mouchoir dans le ronce, by Anne Tinel

Under the bridge, by Abdulrahaman Khallouf

We want to thank our partners at New Tides Platforms and Migrant Dramaturgies Network, as well as Haringey Welcome. A special acknowledgement to our readers Ruth Valentine, Rockhaya Silla, Roxane Paire, Graca Correa, Vicky Angelaki, Bernadette Cochraine, Stéphane Resche, Fadi Skeiker, William Gregory, Deidan Williams, Szabi Musca, Luiana Bomfin, and Alicia Cubells

We are very excited to start working on the play. Cast and translating team to be announced soon. Watch this space!

 

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue sea

With the refugees crisis becoming more and more prominent in the news, with threats or more war in the Middle East and further displacement of people, we feel, as artist, the need to use theatre to make sense of what is going on around us.

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LegalAliens’ project Between the Devil and the Deep Blue sea has two purposes

– Offer theatre workshops to refugees and asylum seekers, based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, in order for them not only to share their stories but to try and make sense of their experiences, the differences between expectations and the reality of their new “host” country, understand the real meaning of language and culture – there’s a lot of talking about “befriending” but what is really a friend? What does the word mean in different languages, which kind of responsibilities it carries?

– Create a play inspired by the stories we hear as well as multimedia events featuring photos, videos, audio contributions and art.

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We’ve created a Facebook page, called Between the devil and the deep blue sea (https://www.facebook.com/migratingstories/?fref=ts) and we invite anyone who has a story to contribute

THE FIFTH LARGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD- Our new project on migration

230 million people live in a country they were not born in, if it was a separate nation, it would be the fifth largest country in the world. This statistic is our starting point for the project we intend to develop. As a group of artists from different ethnic and national background, we have an abiding interest in the status of migrants in European society and the lives of the diaspora, with a special focus on the obstacles, discrimination and pressure they face. With so much press dedicated to the negative impact of immigration we feel the need to do something to re-address the balance and be part of a more nuanced debate.

The spectre of “the others” is always present, “foreigners” invading our shores, stealing our jobs, taking our benefits, cloggging our hospitals, speaking threatening mysterious idioms and pracitising suspicious religions… But who are the “migrants”? Are we sure we know these people we’re supposed to be so scared of? Are we sure we couldn’t be them one day, if God forbid our Western societies should collapse and we should find ourselves threatened by poverty, war or simply unemployment?

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The debate over immigration has turned people on each other. Has made people in sedated white only seaside towns terrified of “Eastern Europeans, Muslims, blacks!” No matter none of such communities live there, they might take over if we don’t stop them… “They”…

The others

The ones who speak different

The ones who eat smelly food

The ones with all those kids

The ones who are happy to work for less (usually because there are employees happy to pay them MUCH less, but never mind that)

But what does it mean to be the citizen of the fifth largest country in the world? And what are the norms and values of this new space that they have created? How does it transform the host country? What pushes a person to leave everything behind? It could be a desire to explore, the consequences of war, economic hardship, persecution or simply a job offer. A recurring theme of our pilot session at Migrant Voice was the normality of the lives these people had prior to departure (even refugees fleeing warzones had school exams, family homes, birthday parties before their lives were torn into pieces). The strive to succeed. And the sense of dislocation and otherness they have to contend with, even when they’ve been living in their “new country” for decades. This is what we’d like to explore: the shared experiences. The geography of this new place they’ve created.

As artists, we felt it was our duty to explore all this. Our goal is to create a big project for, with and about migrants.  We’d like to engage as many people as possible – migrants, expats, asylum seekers, refugees, international students – to hear their stories, encourage them to express their voice, find a way to represent their experience in dramatic form if possible, creating moments of community performance inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed. We’d like eventually to devise and write an original show inspired by the stories we’ll hear, take it back to the people who generated the material, opening up to discussion.

The first step, of course, if meeting people. Gathering stories. Making simple theatre. We started a month ago at Migrant Voice, a charity run by two amazing women Nazek Ramadan and Anne Stoltenberg, who’ve decided to dedicate their lives to literally getting migrants heard. We organised a tester workshop with a group of people willing to share their stories. And what an evening it was! If we ever had a doubt theatre can be relevant and necessary, and able to create a “charged” atmosphere that gives participants – performers and audiences – a sense of empowerment and freedom, our session at Migrant Voice swept all doubts away. It was intense and beautiful, in two an a half hours people from all over the world and very different walks of life, became a unity where stories were shared together with tears, sobs, laughter and jokes. Some participants dares telling stories about their painful experiences they’d never told anyone before and we felt humbled and honoured that they felt “safe” and welcomed enough to do that.

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This is what we want to do. Listening, enabling, gathering. We want to help give a voice to these people everyone talks ABOUT but not many people bother to talk TO.  We’re now reaching out to other charities, associations, organisations to take this project forward. When an anonymous mass of “migrants” become a group of individuals with the same human experiences as everyone else, it’s harder to discriminate. Or at least we hope so.

If you’re interested in finding out more, if you’re a migrant who’d like to take part in a workshop, talk to us – even anonymously – or if you run a charity or group who would like to collaborate with us, please contact us at info@legalaliens.org

 

LETS HEAR THE MIGRANTS’ VOICE: a collaboration in search of stories

Migrants come and steal our jobs.

Migrants don’t speak our language properly and I can’t understand them.

Migrants speak their language on the bus and I feel intimidated.

I can’t recognise my neighbourhood anymore because migrants set up their shops.

Migrants’ children slow down the rest of the class at school

Migrants cause crime.

Migrants are terrorist

Migrants should go back to their country

Because of migrants hospitals are overcrowded.

A British politician recently, arriving late at a meeting, even managed to blame the traffic on the motorway on migrants.

But who are this headless, grey, threatening crowd we generally label as “migrants”?

As a company dedicated to explore the impact of multiculturalism on our societies, we thought it was hight time we gave “migrants” an identity and a voice. We want to discover people’s stories, journeys, dreams, experiences. We want to get to know them as individuals and listen to their point of view.

Thanks to the amazing charity MIGRANT VOICE (http://www.migrantvoice.org/) we’ve been given the chance to do just that. On the 30th of January we’ll run a workshop with a group of immigrants from different countries living in the UK, encouraging them to use theatre to express their point of view and tell THEIR stories.

We’re incredibly excited and honoured to begin this collaboration.

Keep an eye on this blog for future developments. And if you’re a non British citizen living in the UK and affected by issues regarding immigration, please contact  info@migrantvoice.org to get involved.

“Migrant Voice will transform how migrants are seen and heard in the media: from passive, disempowered and marginalised victims, to makers of their own media content. It will mobilise migrants who are concerned about the way their communities are portrayed by the media to engage in positively influencing the immigration debate and changing public attitude.”