‘When I was five years old, my Dad was told our surname might be stopping him from getting a job. So we changed it. It worked.’ This intimate new show draws on experiences of mixed heritage and racism. Amid the cacophony of statistics and soundbites that surround the immigration debate, Labels offers an honest, human story about multicultural Britain.
“Powerful, important and funny”
“Terrific and really thoughtful”
Worklight Theatre’s award winning show Labels draws on writer and performer Joe Sellman-Leava’s experiences of mixed heritage to explore the broader issues of racism, immigration and displacement. During Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015, it won a Scotsman Fringe First Award for outstanding new writing and the Holden Street Theatre Award (enabling a transfer to Adelaide in 2016). It was also shortlisted for the Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Award.
Labels was inspired by a racism and equality workshop, led by Oscar-winning writer, actor and activist Emma Thompson, at Exeter University, 2009. The rise of far right parties both in Britain and across Europe compelled Joe to re-develop Labels for Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015. It premiered in the wake of an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Europe, and fierce debates around migration and refugees. Emma Thompson, who has spoken out against the UK’s response to the current crisis, commented on a new draft of the script earlier this year: “What a terrific piece. I love it. Simple, powerful, important and funny.”
Joe uses his family’s stories about migration and mixed heritage to open a wider discussion about the way we talk about, think about and treat our fellow human beings. The play’s examination of Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis has sadly become more resonant in recent months. Worklight hope that by touring the show in Australia and the UK over the coming months, more people will be engaged in conversation about how the words we use affect the decisions we make about one another.
Cast and Creators:
Writer and performer: Joe Sellman-Leava
Director and dramaturg: Katharina Reinthaller
Producers: Michael Woodman and Joe Sellman-Leava
Costume & stage design: Charlotte Anderson
Lighting and sound design: Phil Hewitt
Photography: Benjamin Borley and Anna Bruce
Worklight Theatre online:
Twitter: @worklight_uk (#Labels)