Students from Willesden school stage play about undocumented migrants
PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 April 2015
Pupils at a secondary school in Willesden examined the real-life stories of undocumented migrants before performing in a play to highlight the plight of migrant children and their families.
Students from Capital City Academy in Doyle Gardens, spent weeks working with researchers from the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) from Oxford University, discussing and interpreting five scripted monologues, based on interviews with migrants, at drama classes after school.
‘Undocumented’ describes migrants who have been refused asylum, overstayed visas, are experiencing problems with their immigration applications or, to a lesser extent, have gained unauthorised entry.
Students worked on themes through interpretation and improvisation, highlighting the plight of migrant children and their families, exploring issues such as getting into a school or finding a doctor.
The school performance was followed by a panel discussion involving the audience who were given information sheets about some of the issues raised.
The researchers suggest there could be 120,000 undocumented migrant children living in the UK, enduring poverty and deprivation without the same level of support given to other migrant children.
They add that tensions exist between child protection and immigration policies, with migrant children being treated first and foremost as migrants rather than children.
Alex Thomas, principle of Capital City Academy said: “We were excited by the opportunity to explore these issues with students. This has been a very rewarding opportunity for all involved and students have enjoyed developing the monologues and devising their own work.”
Bridget Anderson, professor of migration and citizenship at Oxford University, added: “This project is not about who to blame for undocumented migration. Using theatre creates an alternative space to explore the sensitive, politicised issue of migration. Students and the audience have an opportunity to think about the experiences of real people rather than abstract academic arguments.”
The undocumented migrants were interviewed by researchers from COMPAS for the report, ‘No Way In, No Way Out’, which was published in May 2012.
The drama project with schools was funded by the Economic Social Research Council.