Painful experiences take centre stage
by Alison Benjamin
The Guardian - London
June 25, 2008
Asfin Azizian stares at you from the screen. Standing in his kitchen in north London, the former professional footballer from Iran nervously relays his story of detention, destitution and attempted suicide. However, his 13-year ordeal was not at the hands of Tehran's secret police, but the result of the British immigration service.
Azizian's painful experience is one of many horrific tales of asylum seekers' struggle and survival on the streets of Britain that will unfold on the stage of Southwark Playhouse, London, next month in a play combining film, live action and audience participation.
Devised and directed by Topher Campbell, artistic director of theatre company Red Room, Unstated aims to expose the dehumanising treatment meted out to some of society's most vulnerable people and its impact on both them and us.
"These people become stateless," Campbell explains. "We wanted to tell their stories in the UK, where their rights have been removed. While the government is debating whether to lock up terror suspects for 42 days, asylum seekers are being locked up in detention centres for two years. Britain is home to just 3% of refugees worldwide, yet the tabloid view is that we are being overrun..."
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