Migration stories on stage

Illegals - The Game Show

Dealing with people, dealing with true stories

Divergent Theatre Company ready for the stage.
Photo Credit: David Blakston
“We have a story to tell,” told me Roman Berry, director of Divergent Theatre Collective. Born in the Philippines, grown up in Australia, and moved in London some years ago, Roman set the theatre company.

Photo Credit: Divergent Theatre Collective FB page
Three illegal migrants are to be sent out of the Kingdom, where they are living and working away from a lawful conditon. One of them, only one, can be saved because of the audience’s choice.
Each character presents his story on the stage, in a sort of trial where friends and acquaintances are called to testify lives of sufferings and achievements.
Illegals – The Game Show is a theatre performance gone on stage for the 23-28 June, at Waterloo East Theatre, London.

Roman explains me how many more of these stories happen, far beyond what the newspaper can report.

“To a certain extent we all come from that package of immigrants who move from one place to another,” explains me the director. The difference with the human crisis now happening is all in the reasons why so many people have to choose to leave their homeland.

When I met Roman, in early June, the debate over the moral obligation to take more asylum seekers made the headline, especially for Great Britain.
The artistic world has often reflected upon the difficulties faced in meeting our moral duty. We cannot always do what we should, but, instead, we end up with doing just what we realistically can.

When it comes to take in asylum seekers, isn’t UK trying to be like Australia? Who is responsible for them?

 Photo Credit: David Blakston

On the theatre stage

On the stage.
Photo Credit: Roman Berry
Lola May during the rehearsals.
Photo Credit: David Blakston
Lola May played Case 2012, a domestic worker illegally living in the Kingdom. With Nigerian ancestors, she moved in the UK seventeen years ago. “I am just a normal international person,” she said.
When I asked about her nationality, Lola replied, “I am a citizen of the world, I do not apply to any passport.”

Roman Berry and Eleanor Sy Templeman – another Filipino, now British citizen for almost thirty years – wrote the script for the performance. The idea came out after sharing thoughts and news on migration, domestic workers, and the past election’s debates on the topic.

I had the chance to attend the company’s rehearsals. Music, humour, strong voices out of the actors filled the room, along with their experience of migration and the stories of the characters.

Listen to the atmosphere during that time, and to what Lola May and Roman Berry said about the upcoming show:

Individual action

What is the role of art – and, specifically, of theatre – in these debates?

Photo Credit: David Blakston

The aim was to bring on the stage a show that is not just commercial, but a questioning piece. Pushing the individual to think, to talk about, to – probably – act, is the final objective.

Photo Credit: David Blakston
“I believe it is not the human quality of processing,” Roman paused and corrected himself “even the way I am saying it: processing. It is like we are Xerox copier.”

Words and the past where we come from: the duty of each person should be to consider the journey made so far and the people who are going through it now.

Once again, the theatre tries to make us more sensible, because of that human nature we are made of.