UWC Mahindra College monthly newsletter

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Response - theatre season 2012 - the other side of humanity

Inspired by the International Red Cross Organization, MUWCI's first all-night refugee simulation theatre project, "Fight and Flight",  was carried out on 17 of February 2012. Students and faculty were exposed for 12 hours to the elements in the school’s large Biodiversity Reserve, human bureaucracy, discrimination, absurdity and the sense of not knowing what could happen next. Twenty three participants were assigned the roles of refugees along with twenty five actors and crew, complete with roles such as border policemen, bureaucrats, rebels and humanitarian workers.

Clara, an actress playing the role of a co-refugee, accounts for her experience:
The other side of humanity
Darkness.Solitude. Mistrust. I never imagined the power of acting could have such an impact on me. Putting myself in the situation of a refugee together with many of my good friends, I ended up feeling alone and desperate. We were a group of illegal immigrants, trying to cross the border from "Arumland" to "Babistan" at night, through what were our well-known surroundings but became unrecognizable and mysterious roads. The trust between us became threatened as we were standing inline for hours, filling papers in an unknown language, trying to bribe police officers in vain, walking aimlessly in the dark. The simulation lasted for more than 8 hours, through which I had to stay in character but at the same time remind myself of reality.

I was overwhelmed by the feelings that came to me as I went deeper inside my character; suddenly the insults of the police officers had a true impact on me and my real feelings became those of the refugee I was pretending to be. Some of the participants abandoned the idea of acting, maybe because it implied facing the fact that what they were going through could have been a real-life situation. The confusion was growing deeper in my head as I was separated from my peers,''attacked by rebels'', taken into an isolation place and ''abused''.At some point, I was so depressed and into my character that I lost the sense of reality and wondered about the possibility of other people actually having to face such traumatic experiences.

Finally,once I was directed towards a refugee camp, and as I began to regain hope, all my expectations were destroyed. I was hoping to see solidarity between the people, all working together, helping and caring for each other. But I saw none of that, rather the contrary. I noticed that my own friends, when put in this extreme situation of desperation for shelter and food, disregarded any suffering external to them. They were driven by their survival instinct and searched for individual protection, prioritizing their needs before those of others. Though making myself believe that it was only a simulation,deep inside I knew that I was looking straight into the selfish nature of a human being, and that I had no choice but to face it.

Written by Mark, Emilie and Clara
Photograph Sreedevi and edited by Mark

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