Freedom from Torture - "Some things you want to write": Write to Life members attend The Claim

"Some things you want to write": Write to Life members attend The Claim

With the success and media attention surrounding the new play The Claim, we talk to the people whose personal stories helped influence and shape it: members of Freedom from Torture's creative writing and performance group, Write to Life. Here they share their impressions of seeing their stories enacted on stage. 

Blog by Darragh, Write to Life Administrator 

“It looks like the light is giving a cuddle,” Write to Life member Elif observed at the start of The Claim, admiring the warm amber light that filled the stage.

This warmth did not last long. Over the next hour, the lights in the Shoreditch Town Hall grew increasingly intense, with bright white interrogation lights dominating the stage. These harsh lights were part of Tim Cowbury’s brilliant new play, The Claim, which puts the United Kingdom’s immigration system under the spotlight.

The Claim dramatizes Serge’s painful attempt to convey his story to two immigration officials, who are by turns coolly clinical and unhelpfully self-absorbed. While The Guardian’s Michael Billington wondered if the asylum interview process could really be that bad, Write to Life members who attended confirmed the play’s emotional truth. Describing the experience as ‘intense and emotional,’ Elif said she was nonetheless glad that the piece showed how awful the immigration interview can be. Another Write to Life member, Hasani, reflected that the play might actually depict the interview process as better than many people’s experience of it, observing that “it’s my first time seeing an immigration officer befriending an asylum seeker.”

Elif and Hasani were two of five Write to Life members who shared their own interview experiences with the audience of The Claim. After a special workshop, Write to Life members wrote original pieces of creative writing based on their own experience of the substantive interview. These pieces were then recorded for an installation that tours alongside The Claim, allowing audience members to listen to direct accounts of the interview process. These pieces can also be heard here.

Taking part in a special post-show discussion after the play, Elif explained that “some things you don’t want to say; you want to write.” Expanding upon the importance of Freedom from Torture’s Write to Life group for her, Elif described how writing enables distance from a painful past and allows her to focus on the present and the future. The other panellists agreed about the critical importance of art, with audience-members echoing their calls for more creative pieces that challenge the asylum process and expose its painful absurdities.

The Claim continues to tour the United Kingdom throughout January. For more information, please visit The Claim's page on our site. 



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