En route back from University, I saw a crowd in front of the Whitworth Art Gallery. At this point I was drawn in, keen to see why people were gathering. After crossing the road, I became engrossed in the outdoor performance of ‘Be//Longing’.
‘Be//Longing’ is a re-worked moving theatre piece, leading the audience through different perspectives and experiences of migration. By stitching together snippets of the stories behind the headlines, the group ‘Take Back Theatre‘ were able to evoke the chaotic nature of the experience of refugees.
Although it was only performed by two actors, the piece was able to raise different personal ordeals and global judgments, by establishing the harsh divide between the characters’ stories and emotionless news coverage. This effect was achieved by the monotonal regurgitation of news headlines. The sense that both the local and the global impact was reinforced by references to local sites in amongst significant international locations.
The audience was encouraged to re-evaluate the proximity we all have with the struggles refugees face on a daily basis, breaking the barrier between the sofa and the regular pictures we see on our TV screens. As a result, I left the Whitworth Art Gallery that evening, and went home to sign up to volunteer at a local BOAZ trust, Refugee night shelter.
What a clear depiction of the importance of art; a performance which connected with the audience, undermining our desensitised perspective of this global crisis.
If you missed this touching performance, rest assured there are plenty more opportunities to explore refugee experiences through great art! Be//Longing was part of the ‘Journeys Festival International’ which showcases a variety of art styles around the city of Manchester during the next week.