London Stories: Made By Migrants, BAC - Review

© Picture credit: Joyce Nicholls

A few days  ago, the world was reeling with the news of Donald Trump elected as the President of the United States. Coupled with the Brexit result in the summer, the global lurch to the Right with its jingoistic rhetoric about 'migrants', things look as bleak as can be. With this in mind I went to a show at Battersea Arts Centre, where various people who have moved to London tell their life story. Some arrived quite recently, others 50+ years ago – but all have an interesting tale to tell.

Upon arrival, everyone is given a different colour wristband that corresponds with a different London borough. Depending on which borough one is assigned to will determine which six people one sees. In each tour, groups are taken to listen to  three women and three men who are situated at various parts of the building.

The first storyteller that my group encountered was Taylor, a young woman from New York. A student in the Arts, Taylor found London's vibe more in keeping with herself. Meeting the woman who would eventually be her partner, they get married and as luck would have it, sponsorship from her employer to stay in the UK. But what with Trump being elected and the plans of hs administration to annul LGBT marriages, returning to live 'back home' is not on the cards for the foreseeable future...

The second person of the evening whose story I heard was Debbie. Her tale was much more tragic as it involved her mother from Kuwait giving her up for social services. Her formative years were unhappy and the eventual knowledge of her cultural heritage from mother and father's side spurred her inquiries on. However, the resistance she met by the family she eventually tracked down to meet her (including her mother) was heartbreaking, leaving her woman without a family or country to call her own...

Other storytellers that evening included two from Jamaica (but 50 years apart), a young woman from Damascus and a filmed response from Lily, a holocaust survivor...

I'm really glad I went to see this show and would encourage others to see it too. Upon watching it, one feels without a doubt the universality of the human experience and that for all of its problems, the UK is a special place to be.

© Michael Davis 2016

London Stories: Made By Migrants runs at Battersea Arts Centre until 26th November 2016.


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