Actors For Human Rights recently visited Epping to perform Asylum Monologues for a Quaker group there. Here’s an extract from their recent newsletter documenting their responses:

Asylum Monologues by ice&fire theatre group (Sunday 1st October)

What do Lilian’s desire for education, Rose’s funeral costs, and Adam’s displacement by the war in Darfur have in common? This is what a hushed Meeting Room full of people spent a sometimes harrowing but moving Sunday afternoon finding out as Epping’s offering to the local community during Quaker Week.
ice&fire explore human rights stories through performance. “Asylum Monologues” involves volunteer actors, part of the Actors for Human Rights network, performing the stories of asylum seekers living in the UK. The interwoven narratives explain, in the asylum seeker’s own words, the circumstances which forced these very different individuals to leave their home countries and their personal experiences of living, and claiming asylum, in the UK.

We heard how the promise of education or work can trick people into leaving loved ones, and the need to escape a violent war can lead to a desperate journey and further violence. How women’s bodies are exploited for monetary gain, sometimes with complicity from those they thought they could trust, for the gratification of men seemingly oblivious to the horror they are enabling. How asylum seekers, rarely aware of the rights they have, are dependent on “good Samaritans”, who sometimes perpetuate further violence, in lieu of assistance from a state system which veers from inhuman indifference to active hostility. Following the lives of these young people we learnt about a job market abusing undocumented workers, the cruelties of detention, and the hopelessness and boredom of waiting for Home Office decisions. Small slivers of hope came with an encounter with a charity specialising in assisting female victims of modern day slavery but it was horribly clear how much more work needs to be done.

Discovering that to date only Lilian has been granted asylum was heartbreaking – and emphasised how important the work of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (RAMFEL), explained to us by a volunteer / trustee who attended the performance, is in supporting asylum seekers in our local area. We collected £163 for RAMFEL and further information regarding donations and volunteering can be found on their website. 

We welcomed Friends from Harlow and Wanstead, people from our local interfaith communities, and members of the public to the well-received performance.

“I thought they were very good at getting us to feel what other people’s lives might be like.”

“I thought it was well organised and a very powerful performance. The content was in parts quite shocking due to the suffering so many have to go through. I thought the method of delivery was very powerful.”

“I thought it was a moving performance; it was good to be opening our minds and hearts to the lives and suffering and joys of our fellow humans; and it was good to have 3 stories for variety and interest.”

by Rebecca Fricker

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