Journeys Festival Manchester

Journeys Festival showcases exceptional refugee and asylum artists across Manchester from 1-12 October.

In St Ann’s Square a shipping container has been spray painted and showcases very personal and moving stories of what it is like to come to the UK.  One quote ‘I came here seeking freedom and human rights so that I might make a better, safer, more civilised life for my family and me.  But the reality is that I feel that I have suffered in both countries in different ways… I have been separated from my family.’

Performances throughout the day at Manchester Museum on the Saturday showcased spoken word, music and theatre, events that have also appeared at the Royal Exchange, HOME and spaces around the region.   dsc_0531Standing in My Own Truth considers what it means to make a new life and whether truth or lies are more important – and safer.  Accompanied by live music, this piece looks at the conflicting emotions of being forced to leave your home and adapting to a confusing and at times unwelcoming city.

dsc_0535A World Turned Upside Down from The Royal Exchange’s World Wide Workshop presented memories of each participant’s life through ten episodes of spoken word and movement.

dsc_0548Across Manchester buildings are turned into artworks by Jamal Jameel’s ‘The Beholder’ series of six large scale self portraits from refugees and asylum seekers.

In many ways the tone for the Festival was set in September by Tanja at Lowry studio, which questioned the role of the UK detention centre at Yarl’s Wood and whose themes repeat in all of the work in this festival.

And of course a highlight must surely be Belarus Free Theatre with Burning Doors at Contact from 10-12 October.  ‘What happens when you are declared an enemy of the state simply for making art? Where do you belong when your government suppresses your basic right to expression? And how do you survive in one of the most brutal prison systems in the world?

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This festival is important.  Our country’s political attitude to refugees is appalling, and education is as always the key. These are people who are forced to leave their homes through war, violence, rape and torture. Many are university educated, professional, with skills that would allow them to take skilled jobs.   All seek a better life, not benefits, and a real chance of a new start.  Not only do we have a national responsibility to help them achieve this, but integration offers a richer and more diverse future for all.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

One Response to “Journeys Festival Manchester”

  1. caroline clegg says:

    thank you Dave, spot on as usual!

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