The Daily Gamecock

'Stories of Dislocation' tells nonfiction immigration stories through theater

The University of South Carolina theater program’s upcoming original production, “Stories of Dislocation,” retells the stories of immigrants from interviews conducted by the actors.  

Each MFA acting student interviewed an immigrant and learned about their experience in America. All except one currently live in South Carolina, but they come from various countries around the world, including Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mongolia and Russia.

For both Can Yasar and Iuliia Khamidullina, second-year MFA students, the play’s topic hits a little closer to home. As international students, they said they can understand what it’s like to leave their home country and enter a new culture. Khamidullina said even when people are from different parts of the world, there is a way to connect to one another. 

“It doesn’t matter what nationalities you are,” Khamidullina said. “It’s about experience, and I think it’s about [being] human.” 

Through hearing these stories, Yasar said it "gives light" to who these people are and why they had to leave their home country. 

“You hear stories about people, how they made it, how they came here, and what happened and why, and I think it gives another perspective of the immigration thing going on,” Yasar said. 

Yasar said during his conversation with his interviewee from Russia, he could relate to the difficulty of speaking in a second language, such as moments of hesitation while trying to find the right English words to say. 

The actors used the recorded interview to replicate the exact movements of the interviewee. Yasar said they memorized every sound and accent to imitate the way the person talks. 

“We basically used our bodies as instruments, and we let them go through us and speak as those people and then try to honor the person as much as we can,” Yasar said.

The play is divided into two parts: the retelling of nonfiction stories juxtaposed with a wordless, slow tempo performance. Robyn Hunt, creator and director of the play, said this slow tempo style, started by Japanese director Shogo Ohta, blends well with the theme of migration and travel. 

While Hunt did not want to give too much away about slow tempo, she said the actors essentially have to pay attention to every small detail. 

“Ordinary things and the specificity of them in the moment," Hunt said. "That’s kind of what slow tempo is about.” 

Hunt said those in the audience cannot be in a hurry to experience it, but it gives them the opportunity to focus on one thing.  

“[It] demands a deep concentration from the audience. But not to figure out what it means, but just to have it wash over them and see how it might affect them,” Hunt said. 

Immigration is a topic Hunt has recently been interested in and thinks it is important for people to consider those who have experienced suffering. For herself, she said it's easy to group immigrants into one category. Instead, she likes the idea of hearing specific experiences from a handful of people. 

“Consider their stories and think about honoring them in some way or walking in their shoes,” Hunt said. She said some of the immigrants might even be sitting in the audience. 

The performance will run Sept. 26 to Oct. 6 at 718 Devine St. Hunt recommends arriving early because seating is limited. Admission is $5, cash only, and tickets cannot be purchased ahead of time. 


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