“Where you from?” “No, I mean originally?” If you’re an immigrant or a child of an immigrant you have heard this question so much you’ll know the trickiness of it all. The UK is your home even if it wasn’t when you were born. And there’s normally an interesting backstory. To talk to an audience to whom all this resonates is what makes The immigrant Diaries so special to perform at.
The joy of the format is that it is a mixture of history, social comment and personal stories that can be powerful to share –it’s a glorious chance to take a walk in immigrants’ slippers, which in some cases will be just like everyone else’s M&S ones and in others might be threadbare or more exotic.
It’s not just for the informative nature of what a lot of people’s anecdotes contain (during my bit people learn about the passage of Iraqi Jews from Iraq to India to the UK) but also the emotions attached. I am a comedian and used to playing things for laughs but the chance to expand on a subject and mention something poignant provides both me and the people listening a whole new dimension.
Being the child of an immigrant has informed my identity in some ways despite the fact I fully identify as one of the ‘bloody British’ my dad used to refer to while I was growing up. I think these stories should always be told but particularly at the present there is so much anti-immigration propaganda.
When I was in junior school someone found a National Front leaflet and brought it to class. It called Jews ‘Maggots’ and I remember one of my friends saying to me disapproving that that was yukky. To be fair she was very young and I was a larva.
What better way to counter all this rubbish about immigration than by laughing at the absurdity of it and answering their ridiculousness square on?
It’s also incredibly cathartic to mention how a teacher at primary school made casually racist comments, because all these years later, I can finally reply with wit and fact without her threatening to make me stay behind or even worse, being chucked out!
Immigration is talked about like some faceless monster, Immigration Diaries shows you its mouth, eyes and nose and how beautiful they are.
Anyway..come and check out the show which is the brainchild of the excellent Sajeela Kershi. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/immigrant-diaries-sajeela-kershi-and-guests
I'm also telling my story of immigration, travel and charlatan spirituality here..
be great to see you.