Speaking Volumes presents an exciting collaboration between award-winning poet and playwright Avaes Mohammad and the renowned puppetry theatre company Wax Baby Productions.
Of Another World is an immigrant tale highlighting themes of readjustment, rejection and the affected self-esteem of so many of those charged with establishing a new identity in a world unknown to them.
This poignant narrative is delivered entirely in verse and is brought to life in a moving production that employs various forms of live animation: pairing an actor with shadow puppetry and carved figures, projection and sound-scaping that will appeal to a wide set of audiences.
Scraping his tired shadow off the platform, newly arrived ‘Jo’ stands expectantly underneath the railway arches. Dressed in clothes which are ill-fitting, both for his body and his new surroundings, he carries his trunk, a five-pound note and a letter of promise from his long-time friend already settled here. Jo waits.
His friend never arrives and the longer The Immigrant waits, the less able he is to step out on his own. Contending with the suspicion and hostility of a territorial tramp, Jo is trapped between a world too new ahead of him and trains escaping too fast overhead. Daunted by a land in which he feels he has no place, he begins to create his own world secluded underneath his railway arch.
He slowly befriends The Tramp. They form a relationship based upon mutual need, one in which the battle for power is constantly in motion. The Tramp serves to mirror the actual status of The Immigrant: Homeless. However The Immigrant, failing to accept this, always believes himself to be superior, even though they share similar causes for their respective situations and a far more common experience than either can accept. Their major ailment is damaged self-esteem.
The blow to his self-confidence and self-worth creates a hardened dent in The Immigrant’s pride and ego, leading to a state of permanent frustration, anxiety and anger, which metamorphoses to depression and increasing mental instability. We witness his journey of mental decline in all its rawness.
This play highlights the fears common to many immigrants and also the notion that maybe some people just aren’t meant for some places. The trunk holds nothing but The Immigrant’s integrity. Ultimately, the trunk is the only place he feels he belongs.
Of Another World was originally commissioned in this collaboration by Theatre in the Mill, Bradford. Iain Bloomfield, Artistic Director, said on commissioning the work:
At a time when there is a concerted negative narrative around immigration in this country that sits at odds with the acknowledged social and economic contributions of immigrants to the health of the nation it felt important to support this particular piece of work.
That Avaes and Caroline are pushing at their own boundaries, their own undoubted expertise, also felt very relevant. In a time when ‘new technology’ in performance abounds and is often lazily applied, I am really interested to see ‘old technology’ pushed at. It feels very important.
The play will tour around the UK from October 2014, performed by it’s creators: Avaes Mohammad, a British-Pakistani poet, playwright and actor, and Caroline Astell-Burt of Wax Baby Productions who designed the show, and made and operates the marionette. Of Another World has been specifically designed to fit into small performance spaces and to create an intimate and atmospheric experience for the audience.
If you are a venue, promoter or organisation interested in hosting a performance of Of Another World, please contact Nick Chapman of Speaking Volumes – firstname.lastname@example.org – for more information and availability.