(5 / 5)
Battersea Arts Centre has been transformed.
Walking into the beautiful lobby, the grand staircase has been covered by a black curtain and we are handed coloured wrist bands. The ceiling has lightbulbs shabby chic-illy hanging down, mostly colourless, apart from 4 with different colours. My wrist band is blue with the London district of ‘Merton’ written on it. Lots of audience members, I have not seen such a large crowd at the BAC in all the time I have been visiting.
We are soon informed that we will be split into groups, travelling around to meet different migrants in difference spaces around the entire building. Some spaces have never been open to audience members before, and this performance piece not only sees us travelling in representation of the migrants, but also a sneak peek into the restoration work of a building that once as a town hall, was open and inviting to all persons.
With the 4 groups, there are altogether around 24 migrant tales – in theory each time you come, you will hear different stories. The stories range from the heart warming, to the painful and disturbing to overall happiness. Each room we entered would have a different theme – some made into comfortable bedrooms that, if BAC are renting, I would not mind being in! To a kitchen,and some of individuals with only a simple lighting in large rooms. The experiences of each person hit some resonance with the audience, and it was a privilege and pleasure to meet each individual. Some were open and welcoming and some still closed off, depending on the experience. And this was okay, and it was brave for such individuals to offer to tell their stories.
Coming away from this, there was a sense of community. The openness and welcoming nature our country has for these people who have travelled to live here is abundant in their tales of acceptance and their gratitude. A sense of pride and elation came to me as I heard this, and also thanks to such wonderful people to join our community. It gave us a sense of unity with these complete strangers and thankfulness for our own, less traumatic lives.