"How Theatre helped me to get through the Process of Migration..."

Letzte Woche gab es den Vi. Kongress über Migration und Gesundheit in Berlin. Dieser war sehr bereichernd und informativ.

Hier ist der Vortrag, den ich im
Rahmen des Programms gehalten habe:
Letzte Woche gab es den Vi. Kongress über Migration und Gesundheit in Berlin. Dieser war sehr bereichernd und informativ.

Hier ist der Vortrag, den ich im
Rahmen des Programms gehalten habe:

1. Intro

I was born in Mexico City and studied theater and work as an actress. 1990, one year after the wall came down, I moved to Germany and decided to continue working on my passion: acting.

Very soon, though, I experienced what I would call the orphanage of words, of language. It would be very difficult to work as an actress without speaking the German language.

I was “very lucky” to be alone in this country when I came, because I focused hard on learning the language. Very lucky also because one and a half years after my arrival I was touring with a German theater company: acting in German was the best language school possible.

However, speaking the language was not sufficient to assimilate in a different society. I had to confront myself with other cultural codes and learn to get along with them.
The work on the stage helped me to go through it!

I could process daily experiences, some of them painful, translating and transforming them into scenic material in a group on stage. The necessity to create “something” based on my own ideas, feelings and personal experiences made me grow as a person and as an artist.
I’ll tell you an example: I call it “the metamorphosis” - like the one Franz Kafka describes in his famous book. Approximately 4 years after landing, I was on the metro and I wanted to take a seat. Suddenly, I felt as if two big metallic arms or a heavy and powerful invisible mass pushed me down and forced me to adopt the position and physical expression of the other travelers against my will. Although I fought against that force, I couldn’t move as I wanted… very probably an inner transformation had taken place.
In this presentation, I'd like to talk about two different processes in which I could transform such experiences in scenic material. The reflection about what was going on with me, and the creative work, helped me to deal better with another culture.


2. Dealing with an old and new identity
Quite fast I started working on stage with the subject Identity.
In two satirical political Revues („Heaven and Hell” & “Who killed the rumba dancer”), crazy characters expressed themselves about the difficulties to find a job or communicate, to understand the complicated administrative German system, das „Arbeitsamt“ - the employment office- or the political situation in Germany, with humor and irony.
I continued trying to work as an actress but it was very hard. The people from the employment office for artists in Berlin, told me that they really liked my acting skills but that they could not offer me a job due to my appearance, my light accent and especially my temperament.

3. Participation in an international theatre workshop
But in 2006, I participated in an international theater workshop with my own project.
In this project, I made a comparison between the values that I considered essential from my country of origin, Mexico and from my new country, Germany.
I wanted to understand why it was so hard to adjust to a different environment - although by that time my German level was very good and I had the feeling I was integrated in the system. At the same time,
I was experiencing a decay of essential values and I didn’t want to accept that situation because my children, 6 and 9 years old by that time, were growing up in a society where I felt a lot of disrespect between the people. On the other hand, my kids see the world with other eyes.

I came to the following questions:
  1. If the people in Germany are able to cover their basic needs - why are they discontent, bored, or sometimes filled with bitterness?
  2. Is the accumulation of material goods the cause for the loss of traditional values like solidarity, mutual respect and compassion to others?
  3. Do we forget the ephemerality/transience of life and the imminent death?

During the international workshop, we worked on the creation of Solo-performances. The purpose was to search the synthesis of our own concepts and feelings in scenic material.
My personal challenge consisted on bringing my ideas and sensations into the body, because my body could not contradict my vision of things, but my head could.

4. The creation of the piece “I came here as a foreigner-Fremd bin ich eingezogen”

The second process I went through on stage took place five years later, in 2011. I worked on the creation of the piece “I came here as a foreigner-Fremd bin ich eingezogen”.
We explored on stage the inner world of “the one who leaves” and of “the one who arrives”; the feeling of being a foreigner, a stranger in a strange place. We focused on the translation of concepts into the body, developing gestures, such as “Good bye”, “Home”, “Stranger”, “Recall” and “Oblivion”.
The result was a performance with text, movement, visual and sound atmospheres.

5. Conclusions
Working in theater helped me to recognize what was going on with me. The possibility to transform my daily experiences into scenic material and actions helped me to get rid of a burden and regain lightness.
The transmission of those feelings, sensations, insecurities to an audience and its feedback made me feel accompanied.
The feeling is like standing in front of a mirror and recognizing that you’ve changed: suddenly you feel love towards the person you’ve become.

Thank you very much!