Anti-Migrant Censorship at the Royal Court Theatre’s ‘No Borders’

TONIGHT I ASKED the Royal Court Theatre to remove any references about me in their company due to their anti-migrant censorship in my piece that was supposed to be presented tomorrow at the ‘No Borders’ programme at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.

I don’t want to be used by any institutions that are anti-migrant and for the love of God, would censor me again because I had enough of this from where I came from, and I am so exhausted from this I might just fucking kill myself.

I am so exhausted from this.

I was being asked to perform only for 1 minute and 46 seconds and the part of my piece critical to the hostile environment, the killings in the Philippines, and the monarchy was removed.

This has been going on for several weeks. I was being politely asked to change my piece because (1) it’s too long compared to other pieces to be presented to the public and (2) told that my theme does not align with the themes of other pieces and a lot of other reasons from the characters of my plays, to whose going to act, etc non-stop.

I signaled for help and alarm to the management on the 4th of June through an email asking to intervene because there was something wrong with how I was being treated within the program since the time I was asked to submit for the public presentation together with the other cohorts.

I was able to shorten my piece to 7 minutes and 43 seconds with the help of trans activist theatre colleagues from the Philippines. They recorded the monologue. Because I cannot act (I am not an actor, I told them previously). I was told that I cannot ask for help from my community here in London when told that my second piece had two trans characters and I am the only trans-identifying person in the cohort.

So I was left with the choice that it was either change my piece or not join the presentation. I removed the other character and made it into a monologue.

(I am exhausted I cannot put here other things that I was not allowed to do during the weeks I was asked to submit something for the presentation.)

This afternoon, while my piece was running during the rehearsal at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs – it was stopped in the middle. IN THE MIDDLE WHILE THE PIECE WAS RUNNING during the rehearsal. Yes, it was stopped politely in the middle. I was told politely that it will end there, in the middle. I was waiting for anybody in the room to react. None. So, I said yes, just for the sake of the show tomorrow. Honestly, was so exhausted from how I was being asked constantly politely ‘what to write’, politely ‘what not to write ‘ – or politely ‘not to participate at all’ – I just said ‘yes’ politely.

During the company call after the rehearsal this afternoon, I was asked politely if it was okay if only half of the 7 minutes and 43 seconds will be performed tomorrow. I was waiting for other people in the room to intervene, so I said ‘yes’ politely. BUT I explained politely the piece and its form because it was stopped in the middle and the other cohorts did not hear the entire super long and huge space 7 minutes and 43 seconds for a migrant with a vulnerable migration status in the group. And I explained politely (I was exhausted doing this tbh) that there is a hierarchy among migrants because the struggle of the brown migrant is not the same as white European migrant.

7 minutes and 43 seconds is too long for a brown, trans, refugee migrant inside the Royal Court Theatre.

If you are curious about my piece, here it is:

NOTE: Voice Performers are TojaMari Sadie and Stephen Artillero and the sound recordist and editor is Gio Potes (UP Repertory Company). Artillero is part of the ‘Tinang 97‘ – a group of farmers, peasant advocates, writers, and theatre-makers detained by the police in Tinang, Tarlac, a province in Northern Philippines on the 9th of June. The group was forcibly dragged from their peaceful protest called ‘bungkalan’ where they cultivate the land the farmers claimed awarded to them.  Artillero, together with Sadie, recorded this piece for ‘No Borders’ while on bail. Read the statement of the International PEN here on the incident

In the first part half of the piece, the character (a tiktik in London) devours the powerless, and, in the second half, the character devours the powerful. We are removing the part of 7 minutes and 43 seconds that the character devours the powerful. The piece is in four parts.

I had to leave early from the rehearsal because I had to work as a kitchen porter in Peckham. While at work, I received a message that tomorrow, they will only allow me 1 minute and 46 seconds. THAT’S 1 MINUTE AND 46 SECONDS. Napakabastos ng Royal Court Theatre! They will only allow the first part to be performed.

The Royal Court Theatre removed these three parts from the super long 7 minutes and 45-second piece:

(1) Critical references to the deaths of refugees crossing the English Channel and the hostile environment as experienced by undocumented migrants.

(2) Critical references to the extra-judicial killings in the Philippines under the Duterte regime.

(3) Critical references to the Monarchy and the British ruling class.

Napakabastos ng Royal Court Theatre. Should I be grateful for the 1 minute and 46 seconds space they provided to me after all those weeks of being asked politely how to be a brown, migrant, refugee playwright in this country?

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