January 9, 2019
Tom Green reflects on the work of our artists in residence 2017-18 and looks forward to their upcoming show.
There’s a fantastic Facebook post by the director Sophie Besse, who founded PSYCHEdelight, about the need for the group to accommodate new members for their second show. They had formed such a tight team for their brilliant first piece, Borderline, and opening up to new people, including a mother with a baby, was both a practical and an emotional challenge.
The way they approached that, and saw how it chimed with the wider theme of ‘welcome’ that was at the heart of their new piece, says everything about what an incredibly creative, open and inspiring project this is.
As Sophie says:
“With experience, I learned that a problem is often an opportunity and sometimes even a solution. Yes, you’d think that it’s not professional to have a baby in the devising space and that it obstructs the work, but there’s nothing like a baby to bond a group. A baby gets rid of the polite awkwardness within seconds and reduces all sensible adults in the room into playful silly faces. And as far as Borderline is concerned, that’s the two key elements of our work: togetherness and playfulness.”
Borderline came out of a common experience of the Calais refugee camp, following initial work done by Sophie with Good Chance. It is a brilliant ‘comedy about a tragedy’, with a mix of refugees and European-born actors devising and performing together. Audiences have loved it, with laughter, tears and cheers at every performance around the UK and internationally.
Having known the team from the Borderline’s early days, we asked them to be our artists in residence so that we could support them more and help promote their work. It’s not just about the performance, this project is also a huge network of support and care, including the fortnightly Together Workshops that are open to all. They bring an extraordinary energy on stage, and share an incredible commitment to the work, to one another and to the wider cause.
Now they have a new show: Welcome to the UK , running at The Bunker Theatre in London from 22 January – 16 February 2019. In some respects it takes the story forward from Borderline, telling stories of arrival and the challenges of displacement in a sometimes hostile environment. And in other ways it is about going deeper into the feelings and experiences of participants, giving them a platform to speak and be heard.
There will also be a chance to see Borderline on selected nights during the run.
We have been honoured to be associated with PSYCHEdelight/Borderline in their period as our artists in residence and we will continue to work closely with them in whatever ways we can. They are part of an array of talented and committed new theatre companies including Phosphoros and SBC, that are bringing stories of migration and exile to audiences in fresh and exciting ways. They are not just changing the way that refugees are represented, they are helping to create new possibilities for what theatre can be for all of us.
Photo by Jose Farinha
Watch the Borderline interview on BBC News: