Refugees’ talents celebrated in online festival

Published: 18 August 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

Stand and Be Counted Theatre and Tafadzwa Muchenje will showcase a documentary, Where We Are Credit: Anthony Robling

A festival that celebrates the artistic talents of refugees and asylum seekers is to present its programme of work online for the first time because of the limitations on live performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Journeys Festival International, which normally takes place in Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth, will deliver its 2020 programme digitally. It will explore different elements of the refugee experience, sharing work created by international artists who have sought sanctuary in Europe.

Executive artistic producer Maddie Smart said, “creating a digital edition of the Journeys Festival is an opportunity for us to bring incredible international arts to people across Europe. We’ve been amazed at the ingenuity and adaptability of the global artists we’re working with to create powerful, beautiful and challenging work online.

“Now, more than ever, it’s important to celebrate the talents and the views and opinions of displaced people from across the word. We need to remember that the artists taking part in Journeys Festival really are the humans behind the headlines.”

Taking part in the festival will be Stand and Be Counted, the UK's first theatre company of sanctuary. Its work is “adventurous and political, merging lived experience with new ideas”.

It will be showing its documentary film Where We Are which responds to its touring show Where We Began and is an “urgent portrayal of life in the UK for many migrants and sanctuary seekers”. It features Tafadzwa Muchenje who successfully appealed against a Home Office decision to deport him but he still remains in limbo. It was made with filmmaker Smart Banda.

Rosie MacPherson, artistic director of Stand and Be Counted Theatre, said, “we’re so excited to share the continued story of this piece—and that of Tafadzwa, an incredible artist and storyteller whose life was put on hold due to an admin error. We can't wait for people to see this film which feels even more important than ever.”

The festival will run from Monday 28 September until Saturday 18 October. The full programme can be found at the Journeys Festival International web site.