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Featured content

Drama without Borders

Stories of migrants and refugees

From Europeans settling in America in the early twentieth-century, through the post-war migration of the Windrush generation, to post 9/11 refugees, this term’s featured content looks at plays that explore the experience of migrants and refugees across several continents.

Learn more and access free-to-view play content below.

Noura by Heather Raffo

Noura by Heather Raffo

Heather Raffo explores the indelible effects of war on Iraqis, Americans, and the refugees caught between the two cultures. Her Iraq Plays give voice to nearly two decades of rarely examined traumas that have reshaped cultural and national identity for both Americans and Iraqis since the events of 9/11. Told from inside the marriage of an Iraqi family, Noura explores the lingering cost of exile for both recent refugees and more established American immigrants. Drawing inspiration from Ibsen's A Doll's House and championed as a first-of-its-kind feminist refugee narrative, it is already being included in university curricula both in America and abroad.

Read Scenes 10 to 12 to explore some of the long-standing consequences of the move to America on Noura’s family.

Small Island by Helen Edmundson

Small Island by Helen Edmundson

Hortense yearns for a new life away from rural Jamaica, Gilbert dreams of becoming a lawyer, and Queenie longs to escape her Lincolnshire roots. In these three intimately connected stories, hope and humanity meet stubborn reality, tracing the tangled history of Jamaica and Britain. Adapted from Andrea Levy's epic novel, Small Island journeys from Jamaica to Britain in 1948 – the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury. It premiered at the National Theatre, London, in April 2019, directed by Rufus Norris and the filmed performance is available in the National Theatre Collection on Drama Online.

Read Act One, Scenes 3 to 5 for a snapshot of the lives of the Jamaican and West Indian people who joined the British war effort in the 1940s.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Tanika Gupta

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Tanika Gupta

Nikolai, an 86 year old retired Ukrainian engineer and tractor historian in Peterborough, has fallen in love with 36 year old Valentina. His daughters unite in horror to defend their father and what remains of his pension. But is Valentina a refugee searching for better opportunities, or a bogus visa seeker trying to cheat a vulnerable old man? Award-winning writer Tanika Gupta has created a wonderful re-telling of this dark family comedy, adapted from the bestselling novel by Marina Lewycka for the stage. It explores the hopes and hardships of immigrants, and how past experiences can shape families and relationships.

Read Act One, Scenes 9 to 11 to get a glimpse of the tension between Valentina and Nikolai’s daughter Nadezhda, and for an insight into the Kafkaesque interviews conducted by the Home Office to ascertain the “legitimacy” of marriages.

The Free9 by In-Sook Chappell

The Free9 by In-Sook Chappell

Nine teenagers flee North Korea, dreaming of a new life in the South. But the danger is far from over. With threats around every corner, perhaps the mysterious figure of Big Brother can help them? Or is he the very person they're running from? As their lives hang in the balance, could the teenagers' fate ultimately come down to a garish South Korean variety show? Inspired by a true story, this is the story of hope, escape and cultural difference.

Read Scenes 1 to 4 for a look at the lives of the nine teenagers as they settle into the detention centre, alternating with their lives in North Korea one year prior.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Jungle adapted and directed by David Schwimmer

A young Lithuanian immigrant, full of hope, arrives in Chicago in 1904 to work in the stockyards. He and his family soon find themselves processed like the very cattle they slaughter, by the system they dreamed would save them. David Schwimmer and Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company created this innovative and heart-wrenching adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s powerhouse novel, in a co-production with L.A. Theatre Works.

Listen to the entire audio play.

The Moors by Tonderai Munyevu

The Moors by Tonderai Munyevu

Two men arrive in London looking for Shakespeare. They say they are from Balaika, Africa. They have passed through fire to be here and are determined for the great man to hear their stories. Alas, Shakespeare is dead! However, his theatre still stands. Soon they find themselves swept up and placed on stage in front of an expectant audience. Fame, fortune and love awaits ... But, can they survive the increasingly hostile environment? In triumphantly energetic Southern African style, two actors play men, women, and immigration police to portray this funny yet moving story of love, friendship, and ambition.

Read Act 3 as the protagonists’ highly anticipated Shakespeare award ceremony is thwarted by the arrival of immigration officers.


Visit our Previously Featured Content page to view other topics including The Climate Crisis in Theatre, Black British Playwrights, LGBTQ+ Playwrights, Explore Hamlet in the Round, and Female Playwrights - a brief history.

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