Migrants perform in an inverted ''Heart of Darkness'' to tell the story of their own journeys to the heart of Europe. Sharon Reich reports.
At an arts centre in Berlin, 18 migrants from West Africa, Iran and Afghanistan are performing a theatrical interpretation of their journeys as asylum seekers. Adapting Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," which tells of an explorer's venture into the Congo, group members work through their own moments of darkness navigating life in an unknown country. The play's director, Olek Witt. SOUNDBITE: Olek Witt, Teacher at theatre for migrants, saying (German): "People who have fled their own countries or want to come to Europe for other reasons often find themselves in very dark moments ... And these difficult times don't come to an end when they arrive in Berlin, because here they have to struggle with bureaucracy. They often don't speak German at all, or understand the mechanisms of power here." Performers interact with the audience and exchange their own impressions and experiences. Some moments are exaggerated for effect, and convey a sense of the challenges one faces seeking asylum in a new country. SOUNDBITE: Olek Witt, Teacher at theatre for migrants, saying (German): "Under the process, a lot of feelings, emotions and problems come up. This isn't a normal job, we are not working with people from Berlin. So people carry a lot of weight on their shoulders ... They are often sad because their situation is unstable, but it's amazing to see how hard they work despite that." The performers are hoping their on-stage journey will positively impact Germany's heated debate over asylum, which is currently at its highest level in more than two decades.