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The refugee ‘crisis’ of 2016 put human migration at the centre of public debates. As more asylum seekers arrived in Europe, political and media stories did not quite match the reality on the ground. Despite common assumptions, 97% of the world’s population does not migrate. The overwhelming majority of those that do, stay within their home region.

CONTAINED looked at the gaps between migrant experiences and popular opinion. It explored wide-held ideas and beliefs about migration. Performances stirred debate and got people to question their views. These offered a strong base to learn, discuss, empathise and question.

With researcher Marieke van Houte we created a multi-disciplinary approach. Inspired by migrant’s stories from around the world, three elements were developed to create most impact:

Audience experience through participatory, immersive and physical theatre. Part 1. Passers-by being asked to imagine what a decision to leave home would mean to them. Part 2. Choosing audience members through an opaque selection process. Part 3. Staged performance, based on the play Pecking Order by Joakim Daun, using the migration of birds as a metaphor.

Presenting talks and debates about migration issues. Offering information and fact sheets alongside events.

Creative learning
Offering creative learning opportunities through texts, workshops and audio/visual projects.

“the cast’s backgrounds in theatre, physical theatre and dance are betrayed in how wonderful they are to watch.” Daily Info

You can find full details of the project through the website links below. If you’re interested in any elements of contained, get in touch.

Devising Performers

CONTAINED – PART 1 Decisions & Journey
Sarah Jane Clarke, Daniella Cromwell, Sonja Wiencke, Marieke van HouteRemco Heijmans, Sparrow, Dan MacMahon, Anja Meinhardt, Federica Infantino, Steve Hay, Dominic Heaney, Friederike Otto

CONTAINED – PART 2 Movement & Change
Based on the script ‘Pecking Order’ by Joakim Daun
ROBERT: Luke Chadwick-Jones / Peter Dewhurst
KAFIYAH: Daniella Cromwell / Fiona Watson
MAYOR: Remco Heijmans / Judith Von Orelli
ANNE: Anja Meinhardt

CONTAINED – PART 3 Arrival & Reception
Remco HeijmansAnja MeinhardtMarieke van Houte, Mbalou Arnould, François Makanga, Simon Rakovsky, Natalia Martinez, Romana Úlehlová, Steve Hay, Judith Von OrelliFiona WatsonPeter Dewhurst

Artistic Director
Anja Meinhardt

Research Director
Marieke van Houte

Education Specialist
Remco Heijmans

Composer & Sound Designer
Quentin Lachapele

Film Maker
Ben Johnston

Joakim Daun

Sarah Jane Clarke

Set Designer
Simon Dormon

Lighting Designers & Technicians
Ophélie Lebrasseur / James McKeogh

Costume Designers
Suzanne Burlton / Zoe Grace Parkinson

Production Assistants
Natalie Hind / Brittany Roberts

“Our attitudes to migration globally are very mixed”

Migration is part of being a human being, and always has been and won’t stop, but our attitudes to migration globally are very mixed.

Project participant

“It really polarizes opinon”

It’s something that people care about a lot, it really polarizes opinon. Most people seem to feel migration is either a free choice or a birth right.

Project participant

“It was so stimulating”

The whole thing was very powerful. It was so stimulating I didn’t realise how long it had been. When I checked my watch at the end, I thought, wow, I’ve really been held by this.

Audience member

“Spreading the message”

Having the situation where it’s happening in front of you, then a discussion afterwards was a great way to change perspective and encourage a different way of thinking. Spreading the message.

Audience member


13 June 2016 – International Migration Institute (Greenhouse performance)

17 June 2016 – OMSS, Pitt Rivers Museum (excerpts)

25 June 2016 – Oxfordshire Science Festival (Decision & Journey, Debate)

7 August 2016 – Wilderness Festival (Pecking Order)

16-18 September 2016 – The Story Museum (Creative Lab)

1 October 2016 – European Quarter, Brussels (Nuit Blanche)

8 December 2016 – Transmic Event, Oxford (all parts)

11-12 February 2017 – The Story Museum (Pecking Order)

9 June 2017 – Lawyers Against Poverty, Oxford (Pecking Order)