“They were killed trying to cross borders, because they were trying to get to a country to become safe.”
A fantastic blend of music, visual art, and storytelling depicting one person's journey through understandings of nationality, identity, and self-discovery. It was a performance that balanced on the edge of physical spaces – the gaps in the world, the space beyond boundaries, before 'what was' and 'what will be'. Fluidity and uncertainty dominated throughout the whole show and led to a haunting and provocative exploration of a British man's journey through different countries. Colliding with different cultural and personal perspectives of what it means to 'belong' somewhere, he travels across the world to discover the essence of who we are. From the Navajo reservation in Monument Valley to a bar fight in Serbia, to meeting a suicidal American in Singapore, the main character called Chris as well, battles with thoughts of identity and possession.
Can you 'belong' to a location? The Maori identify themselves with the rivers and canoes of their ancestors, Navajo people only have borders to their land for legal purposes. What do you do with the history of your people? A British man is protected by his nationality during a brawl in Serbia just because of his nationality, how much weight do our ancestor’s actions carry?
‘Passports. They do not belong to you. But they are your responsibility.’
Many of the questions that Chris brought to the stage were intermingled with mine. I have dual nationality. I am half-Korean and half-English, but I was raised in England. A lot of my late teenage and young adult life has been in search of something that I feel like I lost – that sensation of belonging, of identity with being Korean. This performance was centred around a white man who was trying to abandon it and bury it. This difference in worldview was exceptionally well displayed and discussed. But what does it mean to remove your nationality? Is it the colour of your skin? Is it a suit that you can change or a stone in your heart or a scar on your stomach? Can you locate it, can you remove it, or will it only mutate?
These questions and more were raised during the hour and a half runtime. It was done in such an incredible way. You could ruminate on the questions and the possible answers with leisure, even as more and more information was brought to light. I was sitting on the front row, so the speakers were pretty loud (warning for high pitched constant static and loud tones) but the music was exceptionally well performed and blended perfectly with the prose, the story, and the images that crossed the background.
Overall, it was an incredibly provocative piece that was done with a lot of sensitivity and self-awareness with the story being told from one person's limited perspective. It was a tremendous way of opening the door for other people to understand each other.