GRANT #364:

LegalAliens Theatre

09/16/2019
How Do You Make Migrants and Refugees Visible and Heard? Put Them On Stage!

They feel invisible, say migrants and refugees.

That’s why a female-led group of first generation migrants (who happen to be professional actors) started LegalAliens Theatre. They wanted to use their art to bring people together, having come to the UK from Italy, Czech Republic, Angola, Lithuania, Greece, US, Germany, and Japan.

Their little company put out a call for plays about the experiences of migrants and refugees, and they received 157 plays from 17 countries. How to choose which three would get staged readings?

LegalAliens went to one of the places new migrants to the UK are most likely to settle: Tottenham, North London, (new) home to one of the most diverse populations anywhere. LegalAliens Theatre ran workshops in Tottenham to invite the very people the project was about to have a hand in choosing the winning plays.

Surprise! The workshops took on a life of their own as people showed up with a wide variety of needs and desires. So LegalAliens teamed up with the local migrants resource center to help people get those needs met. The workshops were supposed to last three months but the demand was so great they just kept going twice as long. They did theater field trips and produced a short performance of their own. People who could barely speak English learned enough skills and confidence to act in a scene from Shakespeare! We’re told the group has now become a big family. This Awesome Without Borders grant will help make LegalAliens’ next season possible, renting space, getting a new projector, printing up the scripts and the flyers.

In a world of “Go back where you came from,” we salute those who say “Make yourselves at home.”

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