Real life stories from immigrants in NI brought to stage by Belfast’s only multicultural theatre company.
Terra Nova Productions are staging a series of five new short plays inspired by the real experiences of immigrants to Northern Ireland which will enlighten theatre-goers about life here for people who choose the province as their new home. The five pieces will have the umbrella title Arrivals and will look at interculturality – what happens when people from Northern Ireland interact and come together with those who were not born and raised here.
A variety of universal issues will be addressed in these new tender, humorous and challenging plays based on real life experiences. Arrivals will open in the Crescent Arts Centre for 4 performances from 12 February before embarking on tour to the Ards Arts Centre, Riverside Theatre Coleraine, Market Place Theatre Armagh and Downpatrick Arts Centre.
Terra Nova’s Canadian Artistic Director Andrea Montgomery, who was born in India, grew up in Thailand, Switzerland and Indonesia and moved to Northern Ireland in 2002, says: ‘Arrivals was created to address the fact that although the 2011 census confirmed that 220,000 of our residents were born outside Northern Ireland, you seldom see their faces or hear their stories on the stages of Northern Ireland’s theatres.’
Following the recent attacks on the Polish community near her east Belfast home, Montgomery is pleased that Arrivals will give a voice to the everyday experiences of immigrants living here.
“The Arrivals project started with a three day workshop in which 21 people from around the world, shared their personal experiences of living in or visiting Northern Ireland with our five playwrights. The end result is five short pieces, which should encourage debate as well as amuse and entertain audiences. We ‘outsiders’ are all different and the plays are full of the incidents of our everyday lives: persuading your neighbour it’s time to take his flag down, or getting lost and wondering why the peace wall isn’t on Googlemaps.”
The four actors bringing these true stories to life are local man James Doran, Michelle Yim from Hong Kong, Cristina Catalina from Romania and Bristol-born British Asian actor Raj Bajaj.
MLA Anna Lo, the only Chinese-born MLA in Europe who has lived and worked in Northern Ireland since 1974 and has been Terra Nova’s patron for a number of years added: “More often than not recently we have only heard stories of our immigrant communities on the back of racist attacks. People who choose Northern Ireland as their new home have a rich and diverse culture to bring to the country and its indigenous residents. Terra Nova is unveiling this for audiences through Arrivals which promises an entertaining night of quality new theatre lifting the lid on what life is really like for many of them.
The Northern Irish playwrights chosen for the project are James Meredith, Deirdre Cartmill, John Morrison, Shannon Yee (who has just finished a project with the Royal Court in London) and Paul McMahon (who has been long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize and is a Stewart Parker Fellow). A partnership with Accidental Theatre Company enabled Terra Nova to reach out to Belfast’s emerging writers as well as those already established. Greek American script editor, Emily DeDakis, who worked extensively with the five writers to get their drafts ready, is a founder member of Accidental Theatre, and a recent recipient of an award from the BBC.
Well-respected singer-songwriter and composer Anthony Toner, who was recently shortlisted for the Northern Ireland music prize, is creating the score for the productions and will spend the next month working with the writers, and the multicultural team behind the show.
Arrivals tour info:
Crescent Arts Centre, 12, 13, 14 & 15 February – www.crescentarts.org / 028 9024 2338
Ards Arts Centre, Newtownards,19 February
Riverside Theatre, Coleraine, 20 February
Market Place Theatre, Armagh, 21 February
Downpatrick Arts Centre, Downpatrick 22 February
For full box office information about all performances visit www.terranovaproductions.net/arrivals-show-2014.