The Irish Times Books to Watch out for in 2021
A chance spotting from the back of a refrigerated lorry of a poster marking Shakespeare’s 400th birthday spurs a refugee’s imagination to transport himself from his detention cell to a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at London’s Globe Theatre.
As we move between the 21st and 17th centuries, Shakespeare introduces Hamid both to a promised new land, and to a series of well-known plays through which Hamid tells his own experiences: of interrogation, of his journey from home: crossing the sea, getting lost in the forest, his months spent in the Calais Jungle refugee camp, and his arrival in the UK in the back of a refrigerated lorry. In turn, Shakespeare teaches Hamid how to speak English and how to behave as he navigates the London Underground, and gives him a helping hand at the Home Office.
From light to dark and back again, it’s a relationship of humour, exasperation and great humanity as Shakespeare and Hamid become the guides to each other’s worlds, both father and son, and teacher and student.
‘Through this project I want to change the way the refugee experience is understood. I want to demonstrate how different cultures can live together through the exchange of dialogue and share with readers the stories of refugees, and the experiences many of us have gone through. As well as the difficulties, I want the story to demonstrate how humour and hope can be found in every situation, and that friendships can be made between all people despite cultural differences. It will be about British heritage as well as Iranian culture.’
In collaboration with Good Chance Theatre.
‘The first time we met Majid, in the Calais Jungle, we met an outstanding artist. We’ve watched him flourish artistically in a new country. Hamid and Shakespeare is the story of two people from different worlds colliding and finding that despite, or perhaps because of, their differences, they need each other. It’s a rip-roaring adventure that sees England and Hamid’s homeland seen through the eyes of newcomers. And it is this new lens, new perspective, new energy that we are so desperately in need of.’ Good Chance artistic directors Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson