Birmingham and Balkan Artists Portray the Plight of Asylum Seekers

A dynamic theatre company made up of British and East European academics and artists is staging a thought-provoking new play about the plight of asylum seekers in Britain.

Birmingham-based Dreamscape Theatre Company’s production – If only the Dead Could Listen – which is to be staged at the MAC Theatre on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th February, is a play which looks at how East European asylum seekers are integrated into society.

Written by Albanian-born academic, Dr Gëzim Alpion of the University of Birmingham’s School of Social Sciences, the production is a collaborative project by academics and artists from Britain and from across Eastern Europe (Croatia, Serbia and Albania) who are all connected to universities across the UK. Principal Director Marcus Fernando is a University of Birmingham graduate; lead actress, Tina Hofman, lived through the conflict in former Yugoslavia and teaches drama at Birkbeck College; while Co-Director, Dr Duška Radosavljeviæ, a former Dramaturg at Northern Stage and Newcastle University, now working for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In If Only the Dead Could Listen the sensitive issue of immigration is approached without the political correctness of today’s society. The characters are naive idealists: they lay bare before the audience their hopes, frustrations and personal tragedies. They do not pity themselves, rather, this bold new writing gives the opportunity to see what it means to be a refugee or an asylum seeker, to ‘eavesdrop’ into the intimate sorrows of those people often seen as statistics, spongers, or a threat.

Dr Alpion, the author of Vouchers, the emotive tragedy about refugees and asylum seekers, said: ‘The play deals with the issue of asylum seekers in Britain and the limbo in which they can find themselves due to shortcomings of the system and misunderstandings on both sides of the cultural divide - as such it has topical relevance and the issues are treated sensitively and with humour.’

Tickets are priced at £7 each with concessions at £4. They can be bought from the MAC Theatre box office on 0121 440 3838. For further information also visit www.ifonlythedeadcouldlisten.co.uk

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Notes to Editors

Dreamscape Productions is a Birmingham based production company which tours all over the world. The company will be touring Canada in early 2006 and it will also be taking future productions to Croatia and New Zealand. For further details please telephone 0044 (0) 77 964 111 06; 0044 (0) 121 443 4577; 0044 (0) 7968 173 576 or email: g.i.alpion@bham.ac.uk or marcus_fernando@hotmail.com

Dr Gëzim Alpion (Playwright), of the Department of Sociology at the University of Birmingham’s School of Social Sciences, is a versatile and prolific academic, writer, playwright, reviewer, journalist, and a media, political and culture analyst. He has given talks and lectures across the world and his work has appeared in many academic journals and other publications. In his hard-hitting tragedy Vouchers (2001), Dr Alpion tackled the emotive issue of refugees and asylum seekers in Britain. The collection of essays and short stories Foreigner Complex (2002) reveals Dr Alpion’s fascination for all things Egyptian. He is currently researching the role of the British press in the celebrity culture and the treatment of overseas academics at British universities. His forthcoming book Mother Teresa: Saint or Celebrity? (London & New York, 2006) has already attracted the attention of the world media.

Marcus Fernando (Principal Director) A University of Birmingham graduate, Marcus has worked as a performer and director with some of the world's leading theatre companies including the National Theatre. Most recently he directed Edward Albee's Seascape in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Marcus and the playwright Gëzim Alpion have been working on the current project for over two years.

Tina Hofman (Actress) Tina will be playing the lead female role in the play. Born and educated in Zagreb, Tina lived through the struggles and turmoil surrounding the recent conflict in former Yugoslavia. A performer and director, she teaches drama and movement at Birkbeck College, London as well as with Bigfoot Theatre and Rage Ensemble.

Dr Duška Radosavljeviæ (Artistic Advisor) has been working as the Dramaturg at Northern Stage and Newcastle University. She has also worked as director and performer with various theatre companies in both her native Yugoslavia and the north of England. Duška, who is originally from Serbia, directed successfully Gëzim Alpion’s play Vouchers at the Festival of Contemporary European Plays in Huddersfield, UK, in March 2002.

Richard Attlee (Actor) plays the character of Kenton in The Archers on BBC Radio 4. His theatre work includes The Young Visiters (Lewes Lit. Festival and Tour) Postcards from Maupassant (Old Red Lion), The Clearing (Shared Experience), Twelfth Night, Macbeth (Shakespeare's Globe), The Winter's Tale (Method and Madness), Gormenghast (David Glass Ensemble), Julius Caesar, The Tempest and Volpone (English Shakespeare Company), A Matter of Chance (The Kosh) and seasons at Chester, York and Exeter. Television and film includes Midsomer Murders, Ultimate Force, Casualty, The Bill and Topsy-Turvy.

For further information

Kate Chapple, Press Officer, University of Birmingham, on 0121 414 2772 or 07789 921164.