audience comment on Life on the Borderline

November performances of Life on the Borderline audience comments

I am really glad to have seen life on the borderline at the arcola last Sunday – not only because the venue is so great – it is my local and I am always very pleased to see plays there and see it doing so well – but I really enjoyed the play – first time I had seen anything in the downstairs studio,

The play moved me very much and as you said it operates on many levels. I am sorry I didn’t stay for the discussion afterwards, partly because I felt very affected by it as it had struck some profound chords for me. But since we were asked for feedback, I am writing now. I felt it spoke very clearly and universally about the human condition, with the extreme experiences of asylum seekers bringing into sharp relief the traps and boundaries that we all face. There was a real clarity about identity – making up stories that are believable to ourselves, to others, debating which story or identity will provide the key to finding the way through and how in that process what is real, remembered or forgotten are all called into question. Being on the outside, kept out, holding ourselves back, not able to move, getting stuck, missing the moment etc. Not being able to go back, that the past is full of corpses, we have to keep moving on. And yet by constantly looking forward we risk missing what is around us, that moment so beautifully described, between one second and the next separating two millennia. And yet because the characters were strong and believable I was caught up in their stories, only realising how universal their story was gradually, so it wasn’t didactic or allegorical, just as time went on the difference between my experience and those on stage was gradually eroded away.

I had to rush off after the show tonight but I still wanted to give you some feedback as I think Life on the Borderline is a really great play. The writing is wonderful, partly because it’s rooted in the characters and their fascinating minds but also because it moves so far beyond the traditional political ‘play with a message’. It is such a deep and universal play, which uses the characters’ situation as a springboard for something really profound about the human condition. I think perhaps this is the most valuable political statement theatre can make: it’s much more powerful than just dramatising what could be read in a newspaper article.

There was hardly anything about the play that didn’t work for me. The attempt to keep it geographically unspecific led to one or two contrived moments: the one that comes to mind was using the phrase ‘the capital city’. Also, the Beckettian influence was perhaps on occasion a bit unsubtle. Especially the first introduction of the ‘let’s kill ourselves’ theme. That said, the play’s rather savage, Beckettian humour was spot-on. Anyway, these are small and personal things that I’m only sharing because you asked for feedback. None of them take away from the fact that it’s a fantastic play and I was totally gripped by the production.


Life on the Borderline comments

Comments on reading of extracts from Life on the Borderline by Hoshiar at Southwark Refugee Communities Forum on Wednesday 21st June 2007
From Ayar Ata

Dear Anya,

Thanks for inviting us to the reading of the play write by Hoshiar at the refugee forum last week , I understand that you need my feed back/ comment in writing and I am happy to write a few words by this e-mail and i hope it is going to be useful for you and Hoshiar :

1. The reading of the play was done very well and the two actors gave real warmth and depth to the conversation for 90 minutes.

2. The power of the play is coming from the harsh and painful reality of practical meaning of border control and illegal border crossing for refugees in our time.

3. The play is a reflection of a true story/ situation among many so far largely untold…… and Hoshiar has just given a clear, human and fair voice to those who have experienced such a journey.

4. I lived in three refugee camps and crossed many borders before coming to Europe and it seems to me this story and the human sufferings because of forced migration and becoming refugee is still fresh, relevant and need to be told again and again by those who done it.

Hoshiar has done justice to the refugee experience and the play is bridging a gap between both who done it and those who interested to hear what actually happened.

5. The play should / can be presented to a wider audience and good luck.

best wishes

Ayar Ata

From Eltayeb Hassan

Dear Anya,

Just want to extend my gratitude to you and Jonathon once again for the opportunity of exposing us to the life on the borderline reading experience it was spectacular,

Please find below some lines I’ve written to convey my thoughts about the play:

The writer himself being from a refugee background is a real testimony for refugees and their positive contribution.

The play is a self-help initiative by a refugee writer to raise public awareness about refugees and asylum seekers who have been enduring the devastating toll of war back home and destitution in the hose countries.

From a personal perspective, the play has provided me with a friendly and supportive parameter for reflection.

The play is substantial evidence that a bundle of belongings isn’t the only thing a refugee brings to his new county.

I believe this play has the power to leverage people minds and engage them into positive debate about refugee and asylum issues.

The play was therapeutic exercise which has led me to revisit some sweet and bitter forgotten memories.

Kind regards.

Eltayeb Hassan
Community Development Worker
Southwark Refugee Communities Forum
St. Giles’ Centre

Quick comment by Nadia Gattan

Hoshiar’s Life on the Borderline comes as an articulated series of soliloquies and dialogues between two men on their way to find a refuge/shelter.

The two characters, which exist in almost every one of us, keep the conversation going for a good couple of hours in which they talk about abstract aspects of life in general. Hoshiar doesn’t bound his characters to location, times, or political belonging. No certain backgrounds are mentioned or highlighted in this play. This is where its effect lays.

The playwright shows how those displaced people couldn’t take a dictionary with them because they didn’t know where they were heading. This explains how uncertain one can be while looking for a refuge. Time and geography also lose their meaning for these guys as they couldn’t keep a record of their days nor know in which part of the planet they where or where they were heading to.

As the play evolves, we touch a glimpse of hope and optimism when the two talk about their dreams and their hope to settle down like some villagers they pass by.

One more point to raise is the maculate language of the play that runs smoothly with the progress of conversation. With his brief and clear sentences and ideas, the playwright could reach the audience’s hearts.

As a migrant and a theatregoer, I highly recommend this play to be shown on theatre soon.

Nadia Hamdan Gattan