At some Godforsaken hour tomorrow morning I'm off to Poland for while.
The trip is the first and most important piece of research for a new piece of theatre I'm making in partnership with Mark Whiteley and Hard Graft Theatre Company (the UK's finest comedy double-act may I add, that has brought you such hits as Thick as Thieves and The Big Adventure and Coast to Coast).
The show is called Poles Apart and in a nutshell promises to be an evening of Polish culture, customs and comedy. The idea came about because the UK is currently going through a bit of an anti-immigration phase and the main recipients of this negative feeling is our extensive Polish community, mainly because they are very large and also because they work bloody hard and bring skilled labour to our shores. They have started to become a whipping boy for all kinds of ignorant, economic migrant fears and because they are white, they are, I would argue, a safe target for the venting spleen of middle England.
So, Mark and I are going to reverse the trend and try to get work in Poland, Warsaw to be precise and our adventure will make up the show Poles Apart. The play will also be a look at the long relationship between British and Polish people, a story of two nations who have fought together, worked together and now live together. It will also touch on the very real plight of people arriving in a foreign land looking for work. Indeed, Mark and I are very nervous at turning up in Poland with badly written letters of introduction and very, very basic Polish and attempting to get work, but our struggles will make for good theatre.
The real aim though is to get our audiences (and we have that already, with extensive bookings through February and March 2009) to re-consider their thoughts and feelings on immigration and perhaps to reflect upon what it feels like to be an immigrant; assess their own personal family roots which, in a bastard isle like Britain, are rich and diverse enough to make it clear we are all the children of immigrants and to treat those we class as being from elsewhere with the respect they deserve.
To be honest, I've spent quite a while doing extensive research that I'm looking forward to gettting my head out of books and into another culture.
Ku przodom wobec Polska! Do widzenia! Na zdrowie!