Among the amazing programme at VAULT Festival 2018 is a lot of politically charged work. Evros: The Crossing River explores the refugee crisis through the eyes of a young Syrian woman. Seemia are an emerging international theatre ensemble and we got to chat to Sara Amini & Robin Paley Yorke from the company about the show.
What drove you to make Evros?
Seemia formed out of our drive to continue training with one another in late 2015. This was at the height of the refugee crisis in the mediterranean. Day in, day out, thousands drowning in the seas and on our screens. Families and friends became numbers. Evros is about people being displaced, being moved from their homes, searching for a new life. A history as old as human civilisation, we see Syrians and Eritreans, Kurds and Jews, Armenians and French Huguenots. Evros isn't just about refugee crisis today, but a repeated crisis of humanity. As performers and theatre makers, we feel we have a duty to use stories past and present to observe and challenge the future; our position as not only performers but as citizens of the world, as we ask how can we walk in their shoes?
Who is Evros for?
Evros is a mix of movement, music and poetic text. This piece is for anyone who loves theatre with a twist, not just your standard bard, but a beautiful blend of styles. Its for those who love seeing a kitchen sink drama in the highest of stakes, those who are politically engaged and poetry lovers.
What makes theatre a great place for discussion of current societal issues?
From it's Greek routes in ancient Europe, theatre was a discussion. But for our international company, theatre is about giving a platform to voices that may not have had the chance to be seen or heard, and letting an audience join them in their journey.
In the lineage of theatre in which we as an ensemble have trained, theatre sees the performer being vulnerable, where they are to be as truthful and open as possible. The actor cannot fake an action, otherwise the audience will know it immediately. This visceral experience, from the performer on stage direct to the audience is the most pure medium human connection and communication. News, television programmes and film is a very edited medium, even in our digital age of online streaming, you can edit and re-edit something that has been published. Theatre is the most alive platform where stories and discussions about society can be presented, in a human, truthful and soulful way. That is why we believe theatre’s the greatest art form to instigate societal change.
What was the last show that moved you to action?
It would have to be a Javaad Alipoor's 'The Believers Are But Brothers' at NorthernStage@ Summerhall whilst in Edinburgh 2017. The audience are integrated into the action from the beginning, there is no passive audience member here. This continued for me to keep questioning how we as a society have a duty to engage with people we may not usually, to discuss and debate, to question our ideologies at both sides of the spectrum.
What shows at VAULT are you looking forward to?
There is such an amazing line up this year, and we're still processing who will be performing, but here's our top recommendations:
'The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha' - Little Soldier Productions, 24-28 Jan
'Great Again: The Musical' - Old Sole Theatre, 24-28 Jan
'Neverland' - The Guild of Misrule & Theatre Delicatessen, 24 Jan - 18 Mar
'Lamplighter's' - Neil Connolly, 31 Jan - 4 Feb
'White' - Koko Brown, 4 Feb
'Boys' - ThePappyShow, 7 -11 Feb
and of course, all of the wonderful events, shows, workshops and discussions from HeForShe in Weeks 7 and 8!
You can see Evros: The Crossing River from 31 Jan - 4 Feb, 18.00, with a matinee on Saturday at 15.00.