Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Nation of Refugees: A look at the refugees crisis

The Nation of Refugees is a play produced by the Communication department of the United Theological College, Bengaluru. Full length plays have been a tradition in the life of the 106 year old UTC and the plays have been a part and parcel of the theatre scene in Bengaluru. This play features an off stage team of Firoz and Malavika, trained at the National School of Drama, Delhi and an on stage cast of a social worker Rebecca, a priest, Fr. Jerry and seminary students Irene, Prazwal, Raj Kumar, Gandhi, Samuel, Ivan, Ashley, Hanson, Ben and Vinod. The cast is international and draws from several states in India as well. The director Jain Syriac Babu has acted in a mainline movie Shikar and a recent movie Jalam (Water) on the displacement of people and homelessness.

The Nation of Refugees is an in house production of UTC born out an urge to let people in Bengaluru know about the refugee crisis brought about by internal war and displacement in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Afghanistan and a host of nations battling civil war, dictators and genocide. In 2015 alone 1 million refugees have migrated to different countries in the European Union seeking asylum with 184,665 asylum claims being approved in 2014. The migrants have taken the very difficult route of sea and land and in 2015 3,770 migrants are supposed to have died trying to cross the Mediterranean alone. The picture of young Aylan Kurdi, a child of Syrian migrants who tried to make the journey by boat, washed ashore cannot be forgotten quickly. The denial of humanity to people forced to migrate from their own land is appalling.

The play brings about an interesting and yet serious prospect of highlighting the refugee crisis by looking at two extremes of the crisis. On the one hand there is a blood hungry and cruelly funny dictator, who is scared of everyone and yet feigns that he is always in control and on the other hand you have the journey of a woman divided into several shades coming forth as a response by people to the crisis. The people are forced by the evil ruler to build a wall and the people rally around the women characters to give an effective response to tyranny and inhuman policies. The evil ruler meets his match in the women who come up through their own struggles and are yet unwilling to give up their right to humanity. Their own trysts with destiny in their resistance to a patriarchal culture, skewed traditions and unjust laws lead them into responding to their families, culture and a threatening regime. The ending is a surprise unlike usual plays and looks to give some hope to a world divided by race, gender and religion.

The 50 minute production is a chance for people to re look their lives during the Lenten and fasting season which is half way through and get a slice of reality and be aware of the suffering of people worldwide. It also sees how children and women suffer most during war and strife and how women can lead a fight back through a self-realization that they have the power and the strength within them for that. In the lead up to International Women’s Day this is a perfect opportunity to look at how a combined humanity with both women and men can lead to a peaceful and harmonious earth and living.

The play was staged in UTC, Bengaluru, behind the Cantonment railway station on Miller’s Road on December 3, 2015 and will be staged again on March 4 and 5, 2016 at 7 P.M. at the UTC, near the library . Tickets are available at the venue.

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