The paradisal island of Lampedusa. Where North Africa meets Rome. Home of postcard vistas, white sand beaches, and the site of the most devastating debris washing up on the shore.
When Anders Lustgarten’s Lampedusa opened at Soho Theatre in early April, few knew it referred to the nearest EU territory to the African coast, let alone an Italian island of great beauty. Currently the EU are wrangling with policy decisions that will save or condemn refugees and settlement quotas for the survivors, highlighting that this is an issue that will not go away. Soho Theatre will bring back this important, and horrendously current play about the human stories behind the headlines, from Tuesday 30 June to Saturday 25 July, partnering with Guardian Live in a series of workshops, panel discussions and digital events.
Stefano (Ferdy Roberts) is an Italian coastguard whose main job is to pull the bodies of drowned migrants out of the Mediterranean. Denise (Louise Mai Newberry) is a payday loan collector in Leeds, who tramps from door to door hearing complaints about immigration and the jobs crisis. In a story of divide and rule, two strangers strive to find human connection in a world of separation. This is the story of two Europes: one that people are desperate to enter and one that people are desperate to keep for themselves.
‘The home secretary, Theresa May, has said that Britain will not participate in a proposed mandatory EU programme to resettle migrants rescued trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, indicating that some should be forcibly returned.’ theguardian.com (13 May 2015)
Lampedusa is by award-winning playwright Anders Lustgarten (If You Don’t Let Us Dream, We Won’t Let You Sleep, A Day at the Racists, Black Jesus) and directed by Steven Atkinson, Artistic Director of HighTide Festival Theatre (peddling, Bottleneck, Lidless). The play produced with dramaturgical support from Soho Theatre’s Associate Director Nina Steiger is a co-production with HighTide Festival Theatre where it will play 10 – 20 September followed by a run at the Unity Theatre 24 September – 3 October.
‘Essential…heartening’ ★★★★ Financial Times
‘Brave, bold and moving’ ★★★★ Guardian
‘Powerfully affective’ ★★★★ Independent
On Lampedusa, writer Anders Lustgarten, said: “This election was fought over who can kick the poor hardest. In the midst of all this toxic crap about immigrants and spongers, this play gives a human voice to the victims of demonisation. But it also tries to understand the pressures on the people who have to enforce the rules.”
In 2014, 4,000 people drowned taking huge risks to cross the Mediterranean. The government responded by eliminating support for the only rescue programme remaining. Already in 2015 over 1,700 have suffered the same fate and many more people are destined to drown as a result of EU foreign policy.
Louise Mai Newberry’s recent roles include The Snow Dragon (St James Theatre), Pick-Ups (Bush Theatre) and Pericles (The Factory). Ferdy Roberts was most recently in Shakespeare in Love (West End) and Pigeons, Talk Show, The President Has Come to See You (all for the Royal Court). He is also Co-Artistic Director of Filter Theatre and Associate Artist at the Lyric Hammersmith.
‘The death of 900 refugees – we have to use that blanket term because we don’t know the names of the dead, and I suspect we never will – in the Mediterranean over the weekend was not a “tragedy”. The word tragedy implies an accidental calamity. An unfortunate confluence of space and time. There was nothing accidental about the deaths of The 900. They were killed as a direct – and deliberate – act of government policy. EU policy. And British government policy.’ Dan Hodges Politics blog telegraph.co.uk (20 April 2015)
By Anders Lustgarten
Tuesday 30th June to Saturday 25th July, 7.15pm (Saturday matinee, 3pm)
Tickets: £20 (concessions £15)
Duration 70 minutes
Wednesday 20th May 2015