LIMBO – A Performance on Families Living under Direct Provision

LIMBO – A  Performance on Families Living under Direct Provision

31 March 2015, 9 am, Lime Tree Theatre, Mary Immaculate College

There is a building nearby, it might be close to where you live. We have all heard rumours about what is happening there but somehow we never talk about it. Somehow it stays invisible. And the people inside are invisible too, waiting endlessly, stuck in Limbo. With dancer Angie Smalis and musician Rory Grubb, director Maeve Stone sets out to ask questions, starting at the beginning with: What is direct provision and how do we start to talk about it? In a short piece that fuses movement, the voices of asylum seekers and live music, we begin to trace the snakes and ladders of a story so close, it is nearly impossible to see.

LIMBO is a collaboration of the Associate Director of the PAN PAN Theatre, Dublin, Maeve Stone, with dancer/choreographer Angie Smalis and musician Rory Grubb. It is a gripping 45-minutes piece that responds to the controversial direct provision system. In conversation with Limerick based advocacy group , Trinity sociology academic Katie Sheehan and human rights lawyer Shauna Gillan, the director undertook a period of research in advance of the week’s work in which she gathered material on the subject; interviews with refugees and their children, footage, recordings, media responses and official reports. One of the challenges was to look for the best frame to create a human, non-didactic, engaging way of presenting this difficult material. Games are a great leveller, they engage us, disarm us and connect us. The idea was to create a massive snakes and ladders ‘Game of Life’ board that fills the space and corresponds to certain events relating to the journey of a refugee. The cruelty of the system can be in how arbitrary decisions and circumstances feel, from children and adult perspectives; representing this through a game of chance, and giving it life through dance, may highlight the real frustration and damage to real people and families in such a vulnerable position. The play is a work-in-progress, a stimulant for conversation and the beginning of a larger process.

How to see the Other? If someone is at risk of being persecuted in their own country, s/he may go abroad and ask for asylum in another country. Granting ‘asylum’ means giving someone permission to remain in another country because of that risk of persecution. What is everyday life like for adult and children asylum seekers who are living for an indefinite period of time in direct provision –  accommodation provided by the State whilst they await the decision about their future? How can they and their everyday lives become visible? For whom and for what am I responsible? How can I empathize with others struggling to make a home in constant transit?  The performance will provide a stimulant for discussion about questions of care, duty, dignity, responsibility and children’s rights with first year BED students as part of the Ethics Strand of ERB and E.

The project has been led by Dr. Aislinn O’Donnell (Philosophy of Education) and Dr. Sabine Egger (Irish Centre for Transnational Studies, ICTS). Funding has been provided by the Faculty of Education and DICE.  We wish to thank the Lime Tree Theatre and Dr. Michael Finneran for their support.