I was at the Rich Mix last night (London's most car-park like venue), to see a piece called The Illegals, presented by the Actors for Human Rights branch of Ice and Fire. It's a company with which we have a lot in common - so as much as anything I was glad to see them in action.
The play is verbatim theatre, based on interviews with "illegal immigrants". I'm not a great fan of verbatim as a form - just because somebody "real" has said something, it doesn't instantly become valid as dramatic dialogue - but this piece was skillfully composed from five very intense personal stories, intercut with quotations from the likes of Jackie Smith, John Reid, and the Border Agency. The collage effect was what gave it the artistry - official lines juxtaposed with human truths to make a very clear and powerful political point.
The actor who'd invited me, Jeremy Tiang, speaks the words of a Chinese man who came to England for economic reasons, and works in Chinese restaurants for incredibly low wages, in constant fear of the police, while sending money home for his children's schooling. The loneliness which came through was very touching. Then there's an Egyptian driver, whose passport has been with the Home Office for two years, so he can't even leave the country(!), a political refugee from Ethiopia who went underground when the authorities refused to recognise the nature of his persecution; and a woman with a similar case from Ecuador, who cleans toilets all night for a pittance. The last case is a woman from Guatemala, who was deported because she had too little money. As always, the border controls favour the rich. It's only poor people who have problems moving around.