“The people really like shaking hands when you meet them….but don’t do anything more than that. Definitely don’t hug them, that disturbs them.”
This was just one of the amusing observations of life in the UK that cropped up in the play that we went to see with clients last week. Phosphorous Theatre’s play ‘Pizza Shop Heroes’ tells the life experiences of four refugees who made the arduous journey to the UK on their own as children from Afghanistan, Eritrea and Albania.
The innovative play set in a pizza shop is about male and cultural identity, of family and fatherhood and portrays a mixture of memories, hopes and imagined realities. The fact that the performers are refugee men sharing something of their experience made it all the more powerful and must have surely caused it to resonate with those in the audience who have had similar journeys.
Before the performance Phosphorous Theatre hosted a workshop for refugee youth groups and two of our clients were able to attend. Afterwards there was also the opportunity to stay behind and chat with the actors and those who helped produce the play. It was great to see some of our clients enthusiastically chatting with those involved and making new contacts.
To sum up the evening in a few words: Authentic, powerful, moving yet fun. Phosphorous Theatre’s tag line is ‘Bringing the unseen to light’ and this was definitely fitting for this production. It is a play that I would recommend to anyone. It reminded me that it is all too easy to just label a person by the situation they are in - ‘asylum seeker’ or ‘refugee’. How easy it is to forget that they are individuals just like you or me. Individuals with childhoods, families, interests, joys, fears, regrets and hopes and dreams.
It was a great evening - a privilege to be a part of it.