Do We Look Like Refugees?! is performed in Georgian, with subtitles in English.
…the Recorded Delivery verbatim technique… um… made it feel a lot more… uh, real and I suppose, useful. It wasn’t just… re-enactment or re-interpretation of their experiences, it was them speaking about their experiences and the actors were delivering that to us. Um, very interesting to see them on stage with headphones in… umm [rustle of paper]… listening to the original recordings of the Georgian people in their… uh… new…settlements as they – I think they’re settlements, they all had to be re-housed. And there were lots of scenes of, uh… kind of bureau-, bureaucrats… and… [rustle of paper] lots of municipal people having to deal with lists and re-housing people and compensation and it was, it was interesting to see how, how mundane and bureaucratic the process is, you know, this is what happens after invasion, after war – there’s paperwork. And that was quite interesting to see, how frustrating it is, how… how boring it is, I suppose. I mean, a lot of the people on stage were, were… discussing how little there is to do. There aren’t many jobs, they used to be living on the mountainside and self-sufficient, now they don’t have land…
But… even though there was obviously a lot of anger… about… being displaced. And about the invasion, and how no one really seemed to want… um, the dispute, they were making the best of it, in their new settlements. They were rehoused. And there were lots of weddings. And babies. You know, they got on with their lives, they were able to make do and actually, move on with their lives as well, which was really exciting to see and hear about. I did go in expecting it to be quite… gloomy. [Pause] But it was a lot more uplifting than that – especially the scenes with the hairdresser, who um, was discussing how much trade he’s had since being rehoused, um. And how there’s actually very little to do so people gather and get their hair cut and they gossip and they sit around for hours and hours and hours… together. In some ways, it’s re-shuffled-, you know, the re-housing has re-shuffled the um, villages and the people within the villages, they’ve all had to… mix-up a bit more. And um, new relationships have been formed, they’ve… come together in different ways. And they continue. And it was, it was really uplifting to see that they… can get on with their lives, they have been able to get on with their lives and it’s not necessarily a bad life… obviously, they all want to go home. Um, that came up many times in the play.
And it was… it was a bit unclear, as to how, how strongly we should feel for… for them, um, as an audience, you know, were we being led to feel outraged? Should we feel actually quite glad at the end of this production that the displaced Georgian people are kind of getting on with it, you know, should we, should we be alright with that? Is it a play that’s meant to reassure us or supposed to fire us up for action? It wasn’t quite clear but it was um, still… a more.. [sniffs]… um… uplifting and enjoyable theatre experience than I was initially expecting.
Do We Look Like Refugees?! at the Riverside Studios until 29 May. For more information and tickets, go to the Riverside Studios website