Push Festival is HOME’s annual celebration of the North West’s most creative talents. Every year this brings a diverse mixture of theatre, film and visual art to the venue, and creates thought-provoking pieces that explore a variety of issues to Manchester’s audiences.
Louise Wallwein, poet and playwright, uses her experience of volunteering with Kos Solidarity to explore the migration crisis in Greece.
It is a powerful, emotive and absorbing piece of immersive theatre. Beginning in the foyer of HOME, we are taken through to a corridor where they meet a stern-faced immigration man who collects our ‘papers’ and sends us in the lift upstairs. You then travel down the corridor in darkness, until a comforting voice leads you into a small room.
Perched upon upside down buckets and bags bursting with old clothes, Louise welcomes us in and encourages us to eat to build up our energy, as if we have just arrived off the boat. We then sit and listen to Louise tell the tales of arriving on the island to help the refugee crisis, whilst sat in a room scattered with boxes full of donations to help the refugees survive.
Sushil Chudasama joins her as he takes on numerous roles, encapsulating the different people affected by the crisis through a series of monologues that are interwoven between Louise’s recollection of her time in Kos. He shivers as a young refugee, talking about his terrifying journey across the ocean, shaking with intense fear as he describes the war in Syria. His ability to switch seamlessly between roles is excellent, and we are able to understand the crisis from different perspectives. His characters differ from young Greek men helping out with the crisis, to the people who are right in the thick of it, experiencing it first hand.
What makes the performance so engaging is the poetic language Louise has used to craft poignant sentences that portray such strong imagery of the crisis. With the help of a projected film, that displays videos and images of Kos from before and during the crisis.
This piece of immersive theatre is not only compelling, but it is real. All of the stories told by Louise and spoken by Sushil are actual words from the mouths of volunteers, coastguards, refugees and migrants.
Details for HOME’s Push Festival can be found here.