Why BAC London Migrant Stories Was So Important
So, following a tiring (but amazing) run at Battersea Arts Centre, the London Stories: Made By Migrant festival has come to an end. If you didn't get a chance to see it for yourself, you can Google to find some wonderful reviews by all the newspapers, who have given the show either a 4 or 5 star rating.
The premise of the festival was to give migrants or children of migrants in London a platform to tell their real life stories in an intimate setting to small groups, in an attempt to humanise them against the portrayal we see in the media. Nothing could feel more important at this time for London.
As a storyteller I'm relieved to not have to tell the story again for a long time but also, incredibly sad that I'm not going to see the all the wonderful storytellers every night. Not to mention the amazingly great BAC staff who made us feel like a family. It's definitely one of those experiences I will look back on fondly.
But what I want to say more than any of this is just how important this festival was and how timely. We were a few days into the run when the US elections took place. The festival took place in the same year as Brexit and we're hearing about racism everyday across social media. What Battersea Arts Centre did so beautifully is respond to an atmosphere where immigrants are easy targets for hatred and can feel themselves being pushed out of any safe spaces. The layout of the festival gave migrants not only a prominent and safe stage but also put their stories at the centre of the narrative. This is something unique amongst the barrage of negative headlines and the sizing down of migrants to mere statistics who are draining resources.
I am incredibly proud to have been part of such an important festival at such a beautiful venue. The staff at Battersea worked so hard to bring together migrant storytellers who have all read their stories hundreds of times by now. Let's hope more theatres and arts centres follow BAC's lead to put unheard voices into their venues.