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Claiming Their Voice: Foreign Memories on the Post-Brexit Stage

Part of the Contemporary Performance InterActions book series (CPI)

Abstract

Lech explores responses to Brexit by multilingual UK-based EU and non-EU theatre practitioners. Situating the paradox of simultaneous hyper- and in-visibility of immigrants in the UK, the chapter insists that the migrant perspective is crucial for the debate on Brexit as part of the broader European Union’s crisis of commonality and solidarity. Lech examines three productions performed in the UK immediately after the referendum: Bubble Revolution, Rosaura, and An Evening with an Immigrant, in which migrant artists claim agency over their representation within public spaces and create a platform for a new social imagination that can facilitate transnational and trans-local encounters, multicultural democratic spaces, sense of commonality, and solidarity. Reflecting on how transnational actors mediate their identities through individual, collective, and cultural memories facilitating encounters between multiple communities, cultures, places, and histories, Lech opens new and urgent frames for studying migrant experience and reshaping broader political discourses.

Keywords

  • Memory
  • Agency
  • Representation
  • Foreignness
  • Brexit

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. 1.

    For example, see Steve Doughty and James Slack, “Record number of jobless EU migrants in Britain,” Daily Mail, May 26, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3611697/Record-number-jobless-EU-migrants-Britain-Hammer-blow-PM-270-000-EU-nationals-came-year.html#ixzz4pL40MmJW; Amber Rudd, “Speech,” Conservative Party Conference, October 4, 2016, Birmingham, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/04/jeremy-hunt-nhs-doctors-theresa-may-conservative-conference-live/; Nigel Farage, interviewed by Maya Oppenheim, Independent, March 23, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/nigel-farage-london-terror-attack-multiculturalism-blame-immigration-lbc-radio-ukip-mep-leader-a7645586.html.

  2. 2.

    Linda Woodhead (2016) argues that “‘no religion’ has risen to rival ‘Christian’ as the preferred self-designation of British people,” especially those under forty. However, people over sixty tend to identify as Christian and Christianity still “remains the norm,” creating tensions within the society (245–247, 259–260). A similar generational split was visible in the Brexit referendum (Moore 2016), which links with Woodhead’s point that an increased cultural diversity in the UK was a factor in the rise of British “nones” who in majority voted to remain in the EU.

  3. 3.

    I use translocal and transnational as two separate terms with the former building on “the longer-established research tradition of transnationalism” but overcoming the former’s “limited focus on the nation state,” directing attention to alternative discourses (Greiner and Sakdapolrak 2013, 380–381).

  4. 4.

    All memories are authentic; however, some names were changed.

  5. 5.

    See Kasia Lech, “Acting as the Act of Translation: Domesticating and Foreignizing Strategies as Part of the Actor’s Performance in the Irish-Polish Production of Bubble Revolution,” in Dramaturgy of Migration: Staging Multicultural Encounters in Contemporary Theatre, edited by Yana Meerzon and Katharina Pewny (London: Routledge, 2020).

  6. 6.

    For example, see Rebecca Perring, “How to get ‘GENEROUS’ British benefits: Shocking guide handed out to Polish migrants,” Express, March 10, 2016, https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/651386/Polish-migrant-guide-British-benefits-system-welfare-hand-outs-unemployed.

  7. 7.

    This is in accordance with Mark Easton’s (2012) reading of the 2011 UK National Ecosystem Assessment.

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Lech, K. (2020). Claiming Their Voice: Foreign Memories on the Post-Brexit Stage. In: Meerzon, Y., Dean, D., McNeil, D. (eds) Migration and Stereotypes in Performance and Culture. Contemporary Performance InterActions. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-39915-3_12

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