In 2015, we presented Star of the Sea at the International Theatre Exchange where we were introduced to some fantastic presenters in the States. After receiving a tour-planning grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts, we plotted a trip to meet potential presenters. Mairead, Grace and Jo spent 10 days across the pond meeting venues in the East Coast and the Midwest and I’m delighted to report that we’ll be touring Star of the Sea there in Autumn (or Fall to our American friends) 2017. It’ll be our first International tour!
I’m currently rehearsing for the Understatement of the Year competition so here goes, last week was a rather interesting time to be in America. Aside from travelling the country visiting venues, we managed to take in the Hunger Museum in Connecticut and Ellis Island. The American-Irish population continue to tell stories of their homeland from coast to coast and their pride in their heritage was a joy to witness. However huge parts of the Ellis Island Museum didn’t make us feel terribly proud to be humans.
Among other things we learned how immigration of Chinese to the US was halted in the late 1800s. Their cheap labour was exploited for the building of the railroads (alongside that of the Irish immigrant population) but once they’d fulfilled their use, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was introduced. This is not to be confused with the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924; this was aimed at further restricting immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans . It also severely restricted the immigration of Africans and outright banned the immigration of Arabs and Asians. The purpose of the act was "to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity.” Sound worrying familiar?
At several universities we visited, we witnessed the incredibly hopeful sight of students protesting like mad, calling for a society of greater tolerance and an acceptance of those who perhaps don’t embody the 1882 idea of “American homogeneity.” It was inspiring to see huge student communities and faculty members actually taking action with protests, a strong agenda and real plans.
I’m so proud that we’re taking Star of the Sea to the States. It’ s a story that encapsulates precisely what anti-immigration scaremongers ignore. Reminding our audience that those arriving on their shores fleeing war, famine or just a lack of options in their homeland are human beings. People with back stories, ideas and hopes for their future. 2 million of our ancestors who boarded famine ships like Star of the Sea during the mid-1800s. Surely people on the move around the world today have a right to that same escape route?
In other news, since performing Memory Paths at Baboro we’ve made some fantastic connections both at home and in the UK. I’ll be able to bring you more definite news at the beginning of the year, but it looks like 2017 is going to be chock-a-block for Moonfish. We’re so excited to see where Memory Paths will go. If you saw it earlier this year, get in touch and let us know what you thought. If you missed it, you’ll have the chance to catch it again!
Humans have been migrating around the surface of the globe since we first began to walk upright, something that appears to have slipped the minds of many of us privileged Westerners. The nervousness surrounding the current migration crisis in Europe has been seized upon by those seeking to further their own aims by spreading misinformation and outright lies. As artists we have the tools to speak up about it, and to fight the campaign of misinformation.
During frightening times, art becomes increasingly more important. There will be rebels as our society becomes more right-wing. They will be artists, musicians, writers, theatre-makers. We will not surrender our integrity. We will not shut up when written off by the mass media as traitors or parasites.