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Rosemary Harris, the lead writer of Map of Me and performer in the show, took time out from rehearsals to chat about the inspiration for the production, the challenges involved and what audiences can look forward to.
Map of Me runs from Monday 12 to Saturday 17 October (with special events to celebrate Black History Month on Saturday 17 October) and is an emotional and heartfelt story of migration that reveals one girl’s hopeful flight into a new life, written from real-life experiences of young asylum seekers. It tells the story of a young girl fleeing war in her homeland as she seeks safety, identity and a place to call home.
Tell us a little about Map of Me, what can we expect?
You can expect to be moved, entertained, and taken into a world of experience that is real and rewarding, with a main character who becomes your friend, sharing her story with you. You can also expect to hear a refugee story that takes you behind the headlines.
It’s billed as a spoken word drama, what does this mean?
A spoken word performance, sometimes called live literature, is a show that definitely doesn’t sound like the dialogue in EastEnders! It’s a performance that uses words in all sort of creative, playful and poetic ways to tell the story, and where the words are what count most of all. If you love lyrics, poetry, or other ways of using words like music, as well as a compelling story of course, you’ll love this.
You’re the lead writer in the show and also perform in it. Does the ‘writer you’ ever have a disagreement with the ‘performer you’?
Spoken word artists are writers and poets who write their work to be performed, so unlike actors working with a script (usually written by somebody else) we tend not to separate out the ‘writer’ and ‘performer’ roles. Creating the show is a process where both elements are in your thoughts the whole time. Only occasionally will we have to edit something out because although the words are great, they are not working in driving the story forward. That can be painful! But mostly it’s a seamless process of working both roles.
“(Map of Me gives) further insight into one of the most pressing issues of our time, and into universal issues such as a sense of identity and belonging, which we all have to deal with, wherever we come from and whoever we are.”
Tell us a little about your character.
There are two characters, an immigration officer and a young asylum seeker, who both have their assumptions and prejudices about each other challenged, finding a human connection in a tough situation.
What was the inspiration for the show?
The real-life stories of young asylum seekers.
What does the title refer to?
The journeys we all go on to get where we are can be read as a map of ourselves, not only of the paths we take but of our identities in how we respond to what happens to us and others.
What are the challenges of the Map of Me?
Taking a sensitive and challenging story and making it entertaining and still uplifting.
So what can audiences look forward to?
Truth, beauty and finely crafted words.
Why should people come and see the show?
Because it’s really good! And because it will give them further insight into one of the most pressing issues of our time, and into universal issues such as a sense of identity and belonging, which we all have to deal with, wherever we come from and whoever we are.
What would you like people to take with them after seeing the show?
A sense that they’ve opened their minds, ears, eyes and heart to a powerful true story.
Map of Me runs from Monday 12 – Saturday 17 October at Half Moon Theatre. #MapOfMe
There will be a series of free of Black History Month events for young people to accompany the two performances of Map of Me on Saturday 17 October at 3pm and 7pm, exploring some of the issues raised in the play relating to migration.