A new political play aimed at fighting prejudice and promoting cohesion between Greeks and immigrants is the latest work from Vice Versa, an acting company based in a run-down district in Athens.
It tells the stories of immigrants who live under the constant threat of persecution.
Greek performers are joined by actors from all corners of the world, including Nigeria, Syria, Uzebekistan, Iran and Switzerland.
Bakhar Hussein Al Bakhar from Syria said: “Greece is not my homeland, but it’s my second country. I feel lucky that I have two countries. If I have legal papers I become ‘human’ – these days you only count as a human-being if you have papers. If I had papers I could travel, I would be a normal human being”.
Actor Elias Kiama Tzogonas added: “I understand that even if there is a small portion of people that don’t want us here, who hates us, there is a much bigger group who do, they include my family and my village.”
Greece has seen a rise in anti-immigrant sentiments since its financial crisis. The director of the company sees the play as an opportunity to show people that there is no real difference between people.
The director of the play, Aggeliki Girginoudi, explained the thinking behind it: “We want to pull the curtain up and we want the viewers to see, through our personal stories, their own lives. And at the end to become one, to think that we are all one soul in this universe, and we should respect each other. There are no illegal souls, illegal immigrants.”
The theatre group relies on the goodwill of volunteers for set design, and building as well as operating the lights. The audience is not charged for tickets, but most people leave donations after watching the play.