In their luggage they checked the commitment to return with the stories of forgotten and abused lives under the figures of ignominy in order to give them a voice in the theater. At the time, no one imagined that a virus would hit the planet a few weeks later, with greater harshness and impiety in the most vulnerable communities, and above all, that an immigration crisis would be added to that health crisis that would put a mirror to so many reactions of racism and xenophobia in our very shores.
Moria, the new production of Unahoramenos, opens next week with six performances at the Sala Insular de Teatro (SIT), in a reduced format due to health security restrictions, but which sees the light in a social and historical context where it is more urgent than ever to sensitize and raise awareness about the inequalities and discriminations that cross us and impoverish us as a democratic society.
“I think we have the duty and the right to tell what is happening,” says Sánchez
This is what its director subscribes to, who planted the idea of this theatrical staging with the aim of denouncing the systematic violation of human rights in refugee camps. “Moria was already considered as a wake-up call, but now it is resigning itself to a reality as terrible as the one that has been generated around Arguineguín,” says Vega.
Precisely, the director has advanced that, when the epidemiological situation allows them to rotate with the show, the work will be renamed Islas-Cage, “in reference to how Europe is concentrating on Lampedusa, Arguineguín, Moria, Ceuta, Melilla or Sicilia to all these people, using the islands as refugee camps so that they do not enter the continent, which absolutely violates the Declaration of Human Rights, ”Vega says. “The situation is absolutely dire.”
The staging of Moria takes place inside a tent and tells the story of two refugee women, Zohra Amiryar and Douaa Alhavatem, who in this fiction are renamed Aminah and Sahar, played by the actresses Marta Viera and Ruth Sánchez, respectively, who were left with no choice but to flee their respective countries of origin.
The first survived four bombings and attacks in Afghanistan, her native country, where her brother was murdered and her four children were wounded before emigrating in search of a refuge for her family, while Douaa, a thirty-year-old from Iraq, had to leave her native Baghdad with her three children after her husband’s disappearance.
The dramaturgy of this documentary theater exercise is based on the actual testimonies of both, filmed live in the Moria camp under the supervision of journalist Nicolás Castellano, specialized in forced migratory movements and human rights. “The stories of the two refugee women serve as support for this show, where we have changed the original names for the show, because a story helps us tell many stories,” explains Vega, who developed the same strategy in the play My Name is Suleimán, who also gravitates on the migratory phenomenon from the homonymous text by Antonio Lozano.
“These signs of racism were not even traditional to our land,” reflects Vega
In this montage, Moria is constructed as an immersive theater surround experience inside a six meter diameter tent, “because the idea is to recreate the experience of being inside this refugee camp,” says the director, who recalls The Moria refugee camp, the largest in Europe, was designed with a reception capacity of 3,000 people, but when the team arrived last January, more than 25,000 people were crowded together, without meeting a minimum of basic conditions. After the great fire that devastated the camp in September 2020, today around 13,000 refugees are living in Moria.
Due to the level 3 health alert in Gran Canaria, the capacity foreseen to accommodate 50 spectators inside the tent is reduced, for the moment, to only ten people. Based on this design of the scenic space, by Vega, “the parliaments that are interpreted are done, on the one hand, by the actresses on stage, and on the other hand, by the original characters through video projections, since we brought hours and hours of interviews with them, the actresses have worked a lot ”.
In this sense, production has been shaping itself from the period of quarantine to adapt to the current situation and to be reborn in this exceptional setting. Actress Ruth Sánchez reveals that one of the keys to preparing her characters has been permanent dialogue within the team. “On our part there has been, above all, a lot of listening, not only to the interviews, but to what the team told us about the lives of the two women beyond what is seen on camera”, says the actress. “And that listening has been with the ears and with the heart, studying what is behind the words and trying to imagine the harshness of his journey until he reached Moria, and also the day to day in that field, which seems incredible that be in Europe, in those inhumane and unworthy conditions ”, he adds. Along these lines, Sánchez points out that “from our profession, which is theater, I believe that we have the right and the duty to tell what is happening.”
And this social commitment is one of the hallmarks of Unahoramenos, with which the actress has collaborated in numerous productions and which, in her words, “is immense luck, because the company has a brutal commitment to the profession and the stage fact, but also a firm social commitment in terms of going beyond pure entertainment and trying to make visible and sensitize about very harsh realities that, in this case, cannot be more relevant because this year, in addition, they have exploded in our noses “.
For his part, Vega advances that “the actresses are doing a beautiful and very respectful job around the figures of these two characters.” “Although we fictionalize the story, in Moria we tell two absolutely terrible stories, which are now even more terrible, according to the information that has reached us in recent days, because we maintain contact with the refugee women,” he adds.
The Moria camp has capacity for 3,000 people, and in 2020 it numbered 25,000
And he says that, currently, Zohra, who works for Doctors Without Borders, was deported to Afghanistan after being denied a visa to enter Greece through asylum papers, so that she is currently in a camp refugees in Bosnia to try to enter Europe through Croatia. Instead, since the fire that destroyed the Moria camp, the team has not heard from, or been able to contact, Douaa since.
However, Vega agrees that Moria also raises the curtain as a scenic tribute to the two women, as well as to each of the refugees in the most atrocious conditions in Europe, to whom the team gives a voice in a context of enormous relevance in Canary Islands. “We are continually seeing signs of racism and xenophobia that were not even traditional in our land, where what used to be rather indifference is now xenophobia, and that is much more dangerous,” says the director. “Therefore, this commitment to reflection and to open a healthy debate on the situation and everything that is happening in the Canary Islands and Spain could not be more relevant. I do not know to what extent we can contribute from the theater, but I do believe that it is our duty to try and we, every time we finish rehearsing, we get excited “.
The show premieres in a reduced format with six performances at the Insular Theater Hall
In the miscellany of images, different scenes starring the actresses Marta Viera and Ruth Sánchez, regulars of Unahoramenos Producciones’ productions, and who in ‘Moria’ embody two women sheltered in the countryside located on the Greek island of Lesbos, and whose The action takes place inside a tent, with the design of the scenic space by Mario Vega. |