Emigrant Hotel [premiere]

 Helsinki, Finland.

Many people today believe – mistakenly – that humans can be readily separated into biologically different races. The strength of this belief is perhaps not surprising, because numerous attempts have been made by scholars to categorize the peoples of the world by race. Some authors have distinguished four or five major races, while others have recognized as many as three dozens. But too many exceptions have been found to these classifications to make any of them workable. A commonly used type, for example, that of ‘negroid’, is supposed to involve dark skin and tightly curled black hair, yet the original inhabitants of Australia, the Aborigines- who were included in the definition- have dark skin but wavy, and sometimes blonde, hair. Many other examples can be found which cut across any clear classifications. Developments in genetics have demolished the theory that there could have been several different lines of racial development from our anthropoid ancestors” (Anthony Giddens, Sociology, Polity Press )Emigrant hotel has to be watched as a puzzle game. 13 different texts from different playwrights from different countries will make the scenario of Emigrant hotel. Dramaturgically the performance takes a close look at the moment when people leave their home, at the moment of arrival in the new country, at the moment of returning back and of finding oneself as a stranger in one’s homeland.

With Emigrant hotel, European theatre collective is examining the subject of migration without trying to make a political statement. The performance wants to discover the person behind the stranger.

Migration is as old as the human race. One could say that Zeus stealing Europe was the first case of human trafficking case, wasn’t it? But the fear of the other is still amongst us. What makes strangers so terrifying? Is it the fear of losing one’s own property? Or seeing one’s identity challenged? Where does the prejudice come from that foreigners are bad, violent, that they rape and deal with drugs?

Two years ago when Etc. started working on this project the phenomenon of migration wasn’t so present in the media. Two years later, the number of emigrants has not necessarily grown but it has become an everyday subject in public discourse. The economic crisis, the rising unemployment and the upcoming elections have all flamed up the discussion about migration.

From the fifteenth century onwards, Europeans started to colonise, conquer and subjugate the rest of the world, which caused in the following hundreds of years a huge movement of population by trading slaves. The European colonists considered themselves in many of the cases as being on a civilizing mission. They considered themselves superior to the rest of the world also because the white race was always considered pure and perfect while the black race for example was and still is associated with the evil. Closer to our times, we find Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882) who is considered “the father of the modern racism”. According to him three races exist: white, black and yellow. He considers whites to be intelligent, with a sense of moral and willpower superior to the others, while the blacks, for example, are the least capable of the three races, they are marked by an animal nature and emotional instability. Later on, Gobineau’s writing influenced Adolf Hitler, who used his ideas in the Nazi party ideology, the Klu-Klux-Klan and other racist groups.

Nowadays in Europe we can find different types of immigrants. We never hear locals cursing a multinational company’s manager because he is a foreigner but most likely that will happen with the bus-driver who maybe had to escape from his country to stay alive. The top football player will be divinized by the fans but his co-national, a constant client at the unemployment office, will be the number one person to be (ab)used by nationalistic politicians as a bad example to gather votes.

Emigrant Hotel tires to avoid pantheism in treating the subject and the immediate reality from newspapers and television news. The group gathers together in its metaphoric hotel stories of people who decided to leave their own home to settle elsewhere. That the motive was a civil war or just the curiosity of a young girl is not the most important fact in our story. At the heart of our stories is the person who became an Emigrant.

Freedom to emigrate is a human right, part of the right to have freedom of movement. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

The audience will get to see 13 points of view from different parts of Europe. From the Turkish Özen Yula’s text about a small village people running away from a monstrous war, to the Contortionists written by Peca Stefan and the surprise come back in Fools come back by Nina Mitrovic audience will witness texts by Roman Schatz, Kristian Smeds, Ari Wahlsten, Andreas Flourakis, Ioan Peter, Andras Rutkai, Nicoleta Esinencu, Emma Carlin, Patrick Maisano and Lina Galrito.

Directors David Kozma, Martina Marti
Authors: Andreas Flourakis, Özen Yula, Stefan Peca, Nina Mitrovic, Roman Schatz, Kristian Smeds, Ari Wahlsten, Ioan Peter, Andras Rutkai, Nicoleta Esinencu, Lina Galrito, Emma Carlin, Patrick Maisano
Working group Romulus Chiciuc, David Kozma, Salla Kozma, Saija Lentonen, Martina Marti, Markus Alanen, Maija Poskiparta, Ullariikka Koskela, Jaakko Jokio

Premiere: 26.08.2010 at Stage- Helsinki theatre festival
Place: Korjaamo cultural factory

This play is part of Finnish Case, a showcase of Finnish theatre.

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