New play explores migrant experience of pandemic

  • Date

    Wed 2 Nov 22

A silhouetted young woman is seen standing in front of a window with blinds in a hazy, red light

A new play, the first to explore the COVID-19 experiences of first-generation migrants living in the UK, will get its debut at the Lakeside Theatre this month.

Lightstreams which is written by Dr Mary Mazzilli, from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, will be tested in front of its first audience in a ‘scratch’ performance on 17 November, starting at 7pm.

The play, which is supported by Arts Council England and staged in collaboration with the Lumenis Theatre Company and the Lakeside Theatre, is the result of the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account-funded project Global Theatre Pioneers.

It tells the story of two foreign women living in the UK: a mother who tries to stop her husband going back to his work as a carer and an elderly woman, a former international spy abandoned in a care home for the elderly.

Dr Mazzilli, who previously challenged negative attitudes towards migrants in her play Priority Seating, was inspired by her own experiences of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Seeing news reports about elderly people being abandoned in Spanish care homes, my own experiences as a first-generation migrant living in the UK and meeting migrant theatremakers through my most recent project made me want to explore in greater depth how the pandemic and experiences of lockdown were felt by these communities.

“The two central characters, Mother and Elderly Woman, retell their COVID-19 experiences whilst also recalling their pasts which are dominated by other global crises such as the Cold War,” Dr Mazzilli added.

Lightstreams has been directed by Robert Price from LAMDA and cast members include two East 15 Acting School graduates.

The ‘scratch’ performance, which is free to attend (but should be booked) will provide audience feedback vital to the development of the show. It will also be live-streamed on the Lakeside Theatre’s YouTube channel.

Lightstreams has been informed by Dr Mazzilli’s Global Theatre Pioneers project, which explored how first-generation migrant theatremakers living in the south east have been affected by Brexit and Covid. Conceived in response, the experimental play, using intermitted monologues and dialogues, is part of Dr Mazzilli’s interest in language dis-embodiment as experienced by migrants in their continuous process of negotiations between languages and cultures.