Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, Dance Manchester and The Lowry came together on Friday to produce a one-off performance of Border Tales which views themes of migration, different cultures and identity.

Luca Silvestrin and Deb Ashby spoke before the play about how they have worked together to create the performance.

The night began with pre-performances from local professional dance companies to show how they viewed the themes of the play.

Each performance showed the themes of migration brilliantly with each company bringing something new.

Italians Do It Better performed by Ina Colizza and Giergio de Carolis explored Italian stereotypes including the audience in the foyer with their performance. The humorous performance still had a serious meaning behind it which was exploring the themes of belonging.

Other performances included Unity which showed the difference of borders and how the performers were influences by their background and culture. Native Backpack, performed by Amy Hallam and Paul Davies showed Paul carrying Amy on his back, showing how he carries his culture. Everywhere, we belong was the last performance which showed how personal barriers are changed and stopped by others.


The pre-performers then showed the audience to the Compass room where the main performance would take place. It started with all the performers in a line in front of the audience, each performer from a different background.

Andy (Andrew Gardiner) was the main character in this as he was inviting his neighbours around for a welcome party. His small minded views on the different cultures that his guests represent were the starting area of what was to come.

Throughout the performance each performer shows their culture and how angry they are with the stereotypes that the public link them to. Yuyu Rau’s performance included many stereotypes from her culture and it was shown by dark lighting with one small light beaming down to her.

Valerie (Valerie Ebuwa) showed traditional Nigerian dances whilst a voice over of her speaking about her past and about her family played. Goosebumps cam across from that part of the performance and it was moving to watch.

The play saw a view on what the stereotypes do to each person with “I think you think” which showed the anger that people from different cultures are viewed by people from other cultures.

That anger ended when they turned on Andy, who had said throughout the performance “Open the gates, close the gates” meaning about the borders of the UK opening up to migrants and refugees.

He breaks down with his welcome balloon he had bought for the party, the lights dimmed to him in the middle of the room.

Some of the traditional music was performed by Anthar Kharana who also participated in performing with the other actors. Traditional instruments from each culture was used to create a show of each actors culture and identity.

The performance was incredible despite the cast being small. The tales, traditions and cultures of each performer were shown exceptionally.

It was a great way of showing how people react when different cultures collide in a place where people are not used to change. It celebrates different cultures and identities in the UK which is shown with humour but also serious choreography and music. Overall, it was a brilliant production.

After the performance, a panel chaired by BBC radio presenter, Karen Gabay opened a discussion about how arts and culture can help integration. The other members of the panel included Luca Silvestrini, Clare Courntney – co-founder of Heart and Parcel, Dr Erinma Bell MBE – Community Peace Activist and Luthfur Rahman – Executive Member for Schools, Culture & Leisure. Here is the Facebook Live video from the discussion.

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