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11.09.2019

A Question of Identity: Immigration Stories

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In his autobiography, Arthur Miller recounts seeing an extract of A View from the Bridge performed at a drama school with a Korean Eddie, a Jewish Beatrice, a Black Marco and a Chinese Rodolpho, and remarks on how moved he was by the raw force of the acting. This struck a chord with Director Juliet Forster: “Reading it made me want to see that version! The power of the drama, of Miller’s writing and the dynamics of the relationships in the play, seemed to me to be bigger than the confines of the setting, and relevant to all of us.”

To achieve her vision, Juliet cast a mixed company of actors in terms of ethnicity and nationality, many of whom relate to the play’s theme of identity and story of immigration through their parents.

Nicholas Karimi, who plays Eddie, says the characters in A View from the Bridge remind him of his father. “He is a first generation migrant and immigrant from Iran, or Persia as he would call it…I think my dad was all three men, the three principal men in the play. He was a very passionate man, very hard-working like Eddie. He provided for his family and was also very strong. He was like a bull.”

“I suppose I am the child of an immigrant. Every time I get a form to fill out I don’t know what box to tick. I never used to know what box to tick, now I do. I am very strong in the fact I am OTHER and proud to be OTHER.”

Pedro Leandro’s (Rodolpho) parents are Spanish and Portuguese. “I grew up in Brussels mainly, as well as Washington DC, and Harare for a couple of years. I think of my identity as mainly European particularly because I went to the European School.”

“I identify so much with Rodolpho because of that wanting to be where he is. He’s so excited about America and that’s really how I feel about being here. With all the stuff going on I applied for settled status this year. I could live somewhere else but I really don’t want to. My career is here and I really like it here. So I would like to stay please.”

Like Pedro, Reuben Johnson (Marco) is of Jamaican and Irish heritage. Reuben’s mum grew up in Limerick alongside 12 siblings. His Grandparents (Dad’s parents) were born and raised in Clarendon, Jamaica before moving to the UK.

For Laura Pyper (Beatrice) too, her Irish identity is very important, particularly in the current political climate: “I was born in Northern Ireland and lived there until I was 18. I am very proud of where I come from. I grew up in a mixed religion household and went to a mixed school. I have always described myself as Irish, even though on paper I am British. As we move closer to Brexit I will be shaking off my ‘British’ nationality and using an Irish passport when I travel.” When reading the script for the first time, Laura realised how the play is still “deeply relevant in 2019 in terms of immigration and identity.”

Lili Miller, who plays Catherine, agrees: “I suppose migrancy has always driven human history, but we also all know, what it is to experience both love and fear of difference. Immigration is something we should explore, particularly now there is so much fear of it.”

Fri 20 Sep - Sat 12 Oct

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE