The story of a woman who runs away from her homeland ravaged by war and destruction becomes the symbol of all the migrants who decide to cross the Mediterranean Sea in search of a better life. It is not fiction, but a true story and journey transformed into a touching performance by the company of the “Southern Area” of Pope John XXIII Community. “The colors of the journey” is an experimental dance theater project, whose starting point is a story many migrants share. It explains what drives these human beings to undertake such a dangerous journey by staging harmony, songs, and dances that characterized their small villages of origin, before the war destroyed everything there.
Lights go out and the audience sees a woman in the desert dunes, patting her belly and singing a lullaby. After having traveled for days, she is tired and afraid, but knows that this trip could might offer her and her little baby a better life. She does not step back and gets into a half broken boat, a dinghy that breaks, after a day’s sail, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The woman and her traveling companions fall into the water. Many people drown, but she is among the lucky ones who get rescued by a big ship that takes them to Italy. The journey is over and a few days later, she gives birth to Baahr, a little girl whose eyes are dark like the sea at night.
Little Baahr’s and her mother’s story is the story of hundreds of women who decide to risk their lives just to have a chance to happiness. Their number is impressive, an army of strong but desperate migrants. This fact is not testified only by the images we see in daily news, but also by the institutions. European agency Frontex has estimated that 31,250 migrants landed in Italy from 1 January to 10 May 2016 and, as reported by the United Nations, 48% of them are women. The “lucky” ones who reach their destination alive find themselves alone in a foreign country. All too often, they become an easy prey for crime and end up in the streets. A slap in the face of courage and dignity.
“The Colors of the Journey” tackles difficult issues, to which the media do not pay much attention, at least not from the point of view of the migrants. “We told this story both in primary and middle schools – explains Laura Lubatti, director of the theater company – and many children told they had never heard that story before.” Gently, but remaining faithful to the stories of the real stars of this humanitarian tragedy that transformed the Mediterranean sea into a cemetery, actors address a diverse audience, sometimes even a “difficult” one. In fact, in addition to schoolchildren, the company has performed in the House Giarre, District of Trepunti (Catania), for 70 inmates and young people imprisoned exactly for illegal immigration. “People really die at sea” – said a young migrant who was visibly moved. In the daily experience of thousands of people, a happy ending is far from being granted.
Freely adapted from Always, a monthly founded by Don Oreste Benzi