Anyone that has even so much has eaten their fish and chips out of a newspaper in the last few months will be well aware that the subject of migration has been a HUGE talking point. So many stories have been told on the issue that it's hard to tell where the line between reality and fantasy is exactly. There's a new play coming to the stages of the UK soon called The Edge which is inspired by real life narratives taken from across the globe - the Sundarbans in India and the south coast of England - exploring the near future issue of mass migration caused by climate change.
We found this to be such a positive artistic idea that we wanted to learn more about it, so we asked the play's director Douglas Rintoul to tell us about some of the most significant inspirations behind the project;
1. The view of France from Folkestone
I’m obsessed with borders, they’ve always intrigued me; the idea of identities shifting as you move over a geographical line – different languages, cultures, perspectives - and the fact that one’s own identity can shift as you move because you are seen differently. The view of France from the UK is magical because it’s ripe with distant possibilities and potentials. It also gives us perspective on our small island life. Much of these feelings are in The Edge.
There’s a self-portrait by the young Dutch photographer Joeri Bosma. It’s him standing alone in the sea, his clothes wet up to above his waist. The watermark on his clothes meets the horizon line behind him. It’s a simple yet evocative picture – for me it sums up much of our relationship with the environment. It seemed to capture succinctly what I wanted to explore.
Loscil is the electronic/ambient music project of Canadian Scott Morgan. I use his music in rehearsals endlessly, particularly when devising movement sequences. It captures a modernity and contemporary sense of our lives. The name Loscil is taken from the words "looping oscillator". The music evokes landscapes, worlds and systems. It has shaped the form of the piece; the actors are constantly in motion moving forward through space and their narratives from one episode to the next.
The Raft of the Medusa is an oil painting by the French Romantic painter Géricault, it resonates profoundly with recent events – namely the migrant crisis. The desperation and fear captured in this work of art is startling. It was a call for compassion, humanity and a common decency. It caused a sensation in its time. It’s a touchstone for our work.
5. An eight-hour boat trip through the Sundarbans
In 2011 we were lucky to receive funding from the British Council to research our project in the Sundarbans, India. We met communities dealing with the impacts of sea level rise first hand. This and an eight-hour boat trip through the rivers and inlets of the largest mangrove forest in the world – it is stunningly beautiful - offered a clear view of what we stand to lose if we do not curtail carbon dioxide emissions now. This has lent the play its urgency.
6. News story of migrants trying to swim Channel
There was a small news story in July about two migrants who had tried to swim the Channel. They had bought wetsuits in Calais. One body was found on the coast of Norway and the other in Holland. The fact that this happens and gains little attention is what has spurred us on.
Raymond Yiu is one of our greatest young classical composers. I’m really lucky to have met him at the Guildhall School of Music when he was a student. This is the second time that we have collaborated. The emotional landscapes within his work are wonderful to play with. His music is transformative offering a moving landscape that underpins the stories within our piece.
The ever-innovative theatre company Forced Entertainment made a piece last year called The Notebook, it’s touring at the moment. It’s an effortless and profoundly evocative piece of story telling. Its simplicity and precision stuck in my mind when making this piece.
Transport Theatre’s The Edge opens at Ipswich, New Wolsey Theatre on Thursday 8th October then embarking on a UK Tour, touring to London Rich Mix on Sunday 18 October and Canada Water Culture Space on Wednesday 4th November and running at various venues across the UK until 14 November. Find out more here.
Photos courtesy of Vicky Long.