The month of October sees a fair few spectacular shows coming to The Gulbenkian but catching the eye and bringing conversation into a wider political context are “The Believers are but Brothers” and “Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story”, shining the spotlight onto the hot topic of immigration.
The Believers are but Brothers has been developed by Jaavad Alipoor to delve deep into the misty waters of radicalization, religious fanaticism and the rise of resentment towards Western society.
A one man performance that has been described as “an extraordinary, teched up show… the buzz of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe”, by the New York Times, Alipoor utilizes technology to immerse the audience right into the heart of the show with a continuous WhatsApp group chat rolling throughout the show.
Exploring a topic which, atypically, people rarely talk about isn’t without its challenges but the need for such a play has never been higher with it being increasingly easy to cultivate a disillusionment within vulnerable immigrants.
Whilst the role of the internet and, in particular, social media in radicalization is incredibly complex it is the weapon of choice for terrorist recruiters when it comes to making first contact and planting the seed of extremism.
Most of us are able to relate to social media in some form or another and we know just how impressionable the content can be so in a time where people don’t want to talk about this elephant in the room, this is certainly one way of getting the ball rolling about, what could be, one of the greatest issues of our generation.
The Believers are but Brothers is showing at the Gulbenkian Theatre on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th of October, 7.30pm.
Taking a vastly different approach but discussing an equally pertinent topic are 2b theatre company who present Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story with a humorous, dark, gritty take on the true stories of Jewish Romanian refugees who moved to Canada in 1908.
110 years on the issue of refugees still prevails with very little understanding over what actually defines someone as a refugee, a distinct shortage of housing availability and even less of a willingness from the government to actively take refugees in.
Over recent months it has been well documented that asylum seekers have been rejected for “failing to prove (they) are homosexual”, the Windrush scandal prompted broadly similar uproar and, as a whole, there is a general feeling that refugees are being left behind both literally and metaphorically.
Old Stock looks to paint the stories of two refugees in a way that, perhaps, modern society has failed to do with an eloquent yet vibrant contrast between sprightly musical numbers and the gut-wrenching truths of war, loss and faith.
At its core this a love story – something that is fairly evident from the title – but, written by Hannah Moscovitch, there is something far deeper at work throughout the 90 minutes; the play is written by Moscovitch about her great grandparents and explores the roller coaster ride that is “the refugee experience”.
The name – Old Stock – originates from a comment by, former Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper who attempted to draw a line between “old stock Canadians” and, well, refugees so whilst this play has deep roots in the past it also seeks to address issues of present day.
Think of a cross between a concert and play, it doesn’t identify as a musical, but an intermeshed twining of the two with the ultimate goal being to “put a human face on the refugees” and, by all accounts, it has succeeded in doing that with the unique blend of humour, music, audience address and hard hitting truths marking the play out as an instant success when it hit theatres in North America last year.
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story is showing at the Gulbenkian Theatre on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th of October, 7.30pm, with a post-show discussion following the Friday performance.
Get down there, if you can, two plays to challenge your perception of the world.