Moving stories of migration theatre production Paper Memories set for Lyth Arts Centre and Eden Court, Inverness
Memories and identity intersect – who a person is today is informed by the life they lived up until that moment.
And that meeting point of who people were and who people are is at the heart of Paper Memories – a new theatre production dealing with issues of migration, identity and the power of memories.
The whole production brings together a multitude of different artistic forms to unveil its story of a refugee family’s attempts to start a new life in Scotland and leave the past behind to audiences in Lyth and Inverness.
Music, aerial theatre, dance and puppetry are all on display throughout Jabuti Theatre’s new production – and a quick glance at artistic director Rachel MacIntyre’s CV will show just why that is.
“Well, my background is in puppetry,” Rachel explained. “My parents are actually puppeteers. So I grew up doing puppet shows and touring when I was a kid. And then when I started creating my own work I became really interested in aerial and physical theatre.
“So cross-artform work is something I’ve always done, and I’ve always loved experimenting particularly with puppets, movement, and the puppet in the body and just putting those two things together and seeing what can come out of that.”
It’s taken two years for Paper Memories to come together – the production starting life during a residency Rachel had in the Basque country. “I had nothing more at that time other than an idea that I wanted to look at exploring the idea of memories and capturing and retelling memories.
“And I think at that particular time there was a lot of press about refugees and migration – I have children myself so it was something I felt very moved by and I felt like I wanted to explore that further.
“And I’m very interested in making work for children that’s very socio-political and has a sort of meaning or depth to it. Not necessarily a message, but tell something more or explore something more intricate.”
At the time, the migration theme was not part of the story. However, the inspiration came from that Basque residency.
“When I was about to run my first workshop on memories I was told by somebody, ‘Oh, I don’t know about doing the memory element of the workshop because you know it’s difficult to remember. We’re encouraging the children to move forward.’
“And I went back and had a meeting with [Paper Memories writer] Mariem Omari – it was one of our first meetings. And I just told her this story, not thinking it was anything in particular and she was shocked.
“She was like, ‘That’s terrible, we shouldn’t be encouraging people to forget, we should be remembering and celebrating. Of course sometimes that’s really painful but that’s how you move on, it’s through remembering.’”