A note in the programme for One Who Wants to Cross cites a sobering statistic: according to the 2020 IOM World Migration Report, the number of international migrants, as of June 2019, had reached almost 272 million. That’s 51 million more than were estimated nine years earlier in 2010.
Amongst those are 82 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, whether by conflict or natural disaster. That’s the highest figure recorded by the United Nations since World War II. The scale of the current crisis is unprecedented.
And, it’s a safe assumption, in 2023, those numbers will be even higher after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Russia’s war in Ukraine and this week’s horrific earthquakes in Turkey and still war-torn Syria, amongst other manmade and natural disasters.
I prefaced last night’s post-show discussion of One Who Wants to Cross with some of this data, but the play itself is not about numbers. It’s a poetic, kaleidoscopic look of the humanity behind such numbers, the stories and experiences of myriad ‘ones’ who get into boats, putting life and limb at risk, for the hope of a better life.
The UK premiere of Marc-Emmanuel Soriano‘s acclaimed French play Un Qui Veut Traverser is powerfully performed at the intimate Finborough by Wisdom Iheoma as the Narrator and Ola Teniola.
For the talk, I was joined by both actors and the writer, visiting from France for play’s English-language opening, as well as Coline, a volunteer with Care4Calais, a charity that provides emergency aid to refugees in Calais and other areas affected by the European migrant crisis.
A key focus of the extensive discussion, aided by an audience that included several refugees and volunteers, was in raising awareness of how migrant matters are so widely manipulated and misrepresented. And, on that, be sure to watch Care4Calais’ video explaining why the UK government’s controversial Rwanda Policy will never succeed in stopping the migrant boats crossing the English Channel.
Event photography by Anthony Kelly.
'In the water now up to the waist, there are some who struggle to walk, staying upright as best they can, holding what’s left of their belongings, clinging to one another'
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) February 8, 2023
One Who Wants To Cross has no identity.
Their nationality has little meaning. They are from a country where leaving is forbidden.
— One Who Wants to Cross (@OneWhoWantsTo) January 24, 2023
— Finborough Theatre (@finborough) February 9, 2023
The Rwanda plan won’t end small boat crossings. Expensive deals with France won’t stop people smugglers. Neither will keep refugees safe.
— Care4Calais (@Care4Calais) November 16, 2022