list.co.uk/festival Migration | FESTIVAL THEATRE
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O T O H P The consequences of migration – forced or otherwise – is the focus of several shows at this year’s Fringe. Irina Glinski takes a look at the productions aiming to tell the personal stories beyond the headlines
T he refugee crisis may have slipped from TV screens and rolling news coverage in recent months, but the movement of people between countries and continents is still a major theme within the Fringe, with a number of companies shining a spotlight on marginalised voices affected by migration.
Matthew Zajac returns to Summerhall with The Sky Is Safe, Dogstar Theatre’s i fth Fringe production and a personal response to the unfolding Syrian tragedy. In 2012, Zajac spent nine days trapped in bureaucratic limbo in Istanbul, as his visa for travel to Iran was cancelled following a diplomatic crisis. Instead of travelling to take the lead role in a i lm, he found himself writing about chance encounters on the streets of Turkey’s largest city. Earlier this year he
returned there to interview Syrian women, meetings which became central to the creation of this new play, directed by Ben Harrison. ‘Amal, the female character in The Sky Is Safe comes from these interviews,’ Zajac says. ‘She is essentially an everywoman, a composite character who embodies aspects of the female experience of the Syrian war.’
This engagement with migration goes beyond the story and into the production team: set designer Nihad Al Turk, a highly-respected Syrian visual artist, came with his family to Scotland from a refugee camp in Lebanon. Writer Henry C Krempels was also inspired by a chance encounter. In 2015, Krempels was commissioned by Vice Magazine to write about the train journey from Milan to Paris which was being used by refugees coming up
through the south of Italy. The Sleeper: Or What Happens When You Ask Them to Leave weaves together an unusual story with real testimony from Syrian refugees. During one of a dozen or so train journeys he made over the course of about a year, he returned from the restaurant car to i nd someone asleep in his bed. ‘I lay in the warm bed [afterwards] and thought about who she might have been and what I might have done about that,’ says Krempels. ‘These two questions have obsessed me since then – I’ve even tried to i nd her – and the play is for her’. The Sleeper describes a situation familiar to the thousands of refugees who i nd themselves stuck in the liminal space between the homes they have left behind and the new lives they are yet to begin.
3–10 Aug 2017 THE LIST FESTIVAL 109