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Don't Let Them Tell You Stories

New theatre work
Don't Let Them Tell You Stories
This new play was written in response to Border Crossings’ project THE PROMISED LAND, which explored the situation of refugees across Europe and Turkey, and the role of the arts and culture in making a response.

The play, set in a very recognisable near future, asks important questions about the way we perceive “the Other” and the assumptions we constantly and complacently make.

It was given a rehearsed reading by Border Crossings under the direction of Michael Walling at RICH MIX, Shoreditch, on 11th October 2019.

Olivia Darnley
Ross Hatt
Peyvand Sadeghian
David Furlong
Rachid Sabitri

Whilst participating in The Promised Land project I was privileged to have had many remarkable conversations with young people recently arrived in Europe from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Mali; conversations which were illuminating, inspirational and deeply challenging to many of my own preconceived notions about ‘refugees’.

This play is a response to the project and to those conversations. As the project developed it became increasingly evident that all talk about migration and immigration in simplistic numerical terms is a denial of humanity – of theirs (whoever they might be) and of our own. The play also aims to address the assumption that by creating borders and building walls we can pretend that what’s on the other side is not our concern, not part of our world.

The play is not a documentary drama, and certainly not verbatim theatre, but it does draw heavily on conversations with participants in the project, including those refugees we met in Adana, Bologna, London, Oldenburg and Toulouse.

‘We’re afraid of strangers. We’re even scared of their traumatized children… When people arrive with nothing but the sweat on their backs and a crying need for safe refuge, we’re terrified… So great and so wild is our fear of … arrivals, we can no longer see victims of war and persecution as fellow humans.’
Tim Winton, Stones for Bread – in The Boy Behind the Curtain (2017)

‘What opens our minds and shows the limits of our ideas is an encounter with other people, other cultures, other ideas…. Each time that we – as a nation, a group, a continent, or a religion – look inward in celebration of our specific identity, we do nothing but lionise our own limits and sing of our stupidity. Each time that we open ourselves to diversity and ponder that which is different from us, we enlarge the richness and intelligence of the human race.’
Carlo Rovelli, Anaximander (2007)

I would like to thank all who participated in every way in The Promised Land project. I am particularly grateful to Micaela Casalboni and Nicola Bonazzi of Teatro dell’ Argine (Bologna) for their richly insightful conversations and inspirational theatre company. And above all to Michael Walling of Border Crossings, for asking me to take part in the project, for our continuing conversations and for organising this rehearsed reading.
Brian Woolland, October 2019
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