Luca Silvestrini’s Protein presents dance work Border Tales.

Luca Silvestrini’s Protein presents:

Border Tales

Based on personal experiences, Protein’s satirical and poignant exploration of the stereotypes about multicultural life in Britain tours the UK and internationally

Conceived and Directed by Luca Silvestrini
Leicester Grammar School 30th April

★★★★★   “Funny, thought-provoking and consistently entertaining” Scotsman

★★★★★   “Frank and unflinching…brilliant” Fest

★★★★★   “A bold, visceral dynamic attempt to show the lives of multicultural Britain today” North West End

★★★★★   “Essential theatre” Broadway Baby

★★★★★    “Truly outstanding work” Define Arts      

Awarding-winning dance company Protein peel back the stereotypes about the different cultures in Britain in their hit show following a much-acclaimed run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017. Sharing dialogue compiled from the performers’ own experiences, the show fuses speech and dance in a funny and all-too-familiar look at stereotypes and clichés.

With wit, movement and live music, Luca Silvestrini’s Border Tales looks at the UK through the eyes of its British and international cast.

Border Tales was developed from research conducted with migrants and refugees across Europe, Palestine, India and the UK, including participants from Islington Refugee Centre. The show has had sold-out runs in London and on tour, and was broadcast on BBC World Service as part of their Identity season in 2016. After a sell-out run at Summerhall for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as part of The Place’s dance showcase, Border Tales toured to venues across the South and Midlands of England in November. The summer tour 2018 will include dates in Italy, Switzerland and Romania.

Luca Silvestrini, Artistic Director of Protein says: “The desire to bring back this piece of work created in 2013 comes primarily from the moment we are living in. Back then, we were only at the start of a world crisis; four years down the line a lot has happened, resulting in a more divisive and intolerant co-existence. I feel it is important to bring back these simple yet relevant tales of migration and identity, to both remember the past and to reflect about today. This year’s restaging of Border Tales is not only a desire to make sure that more people can see it, but it is primarily a necessity to provoke and increase our capacity to talk and share stories of migration.”

Photograph © Jane Hobson.

Q&A with Luca Silvestrini

What was the inspiration for Border Tales back in 2013?

Partly, it was the beginning of the migrants’ crisis, with more wars happening around the world. In 2011, David Cameron commented that multiculturalism wasn’t working in the UK. This was the bigger picture and then the more personal picture was that after nearly 20 years in the UK I came across a sense of ‘who am I? Am I English or Italian or something in between? I’m not one or the other. In Italy I was finding it difficult to speak my own language. I discovered a sense of ‘in-betweenness’, of feeling a little bit foreign in your own country. Identity is not something that is given to you at birth, it’s something very fluid that keeps shifting and surprising you. This is what prompted me to start a long period of research with non-performers – I did a lot of interviews and workshops with people around the UK and also abroad, listening to their stories and opinions.

How did you create the work? Was it a collaborative process with the performers?

I auditioned to find the right performers who, like me felt the need to share their thoughts and stories. Once in the studio I shared my findings with them, but their stories were much more present and needed to be told. The performers’ realities became the show. It was also very important to collaborate with the composer Andy Pink and musician Anthar Kharana throughout.

What role did the Brexit vote play in reviving/reworking it? Are there any main differences between the original production and the new version adapted for a post-Brexit audience?

What was maybe the beginning of a world crisis became one and then we got Brexit, Trump, a lot of negative policies in Europe around borders and stopping migration. Suddenly this work became very relevant and important, even more so than it was in 2013. It was almost a forced choice, it would have been silly not to restage it for today. I haven’t changed much, probably a few lines. What has changed is my ability to look back, pare it down and edit. I made it more focused on the people onstage. In 2016 we were invited by the BBC World Service to stage a half hour extract from the piece for a programme based on identity. That invitation from the BBC. convinced me to bring Border Tales back.

The work includes speech as well as dance. What shaped your decision to include text along with movement?

At Protein we create dance theatre experiences based on real life. I consider words to be as important as movement to embrace and communicate with an audience. I found that there are certain things that cannot be said with movement and certain things cannot be said with words. So ideally I’m trying to find a holistic way of communicating.

Are you looking forward to touring the show? What do you hope audiences will take from the piece? What message or effects are you hoping to convey?

Yes I’m really looking forward to it. In 2014 the tour was short so I always felt I needed to take it around more. We had a very successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe this year and that confirmed to me that the piece is important.

It’s about culture and identity. The piece doesn’t make a final statement but those are the subjects and I decided to go down a certain route. So it’s a piece that encourages debate and conversation and that’s what I care for. It’s not just a piece of entertainment.

What’s next for the company?

Having taken Border Tales to Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017 and toured the show in the autumn last year, we are just about to tour the piece again for spring 2018 to UK and international venues.

Protein have been commissioned to create a new edition of (In)visible Dancing for Stockton International Riverside Festival. The show is an outdoor piece that we’ve revisited thirteen times since it was originally created in 2010 and involves working with the locality and its people, bringing together a community and performers for a grand finale performance, that can engage audiences up to 12,000.

Photograph © Jane Hobson.

Formed in 1997 and currently one of the most distinctive voices in British dance theatre, Protein uses a blend of original choreography, humour and music to entertain and provoke audiences. The company’s idiosyncratic dance theatre work provoked by the everyday include B for Body, a Place Prize Finalist in 2006, and the award-winning LOL (lots of love), which has toured extensively since its 2011 debut, winning acclaim from critics and audiences alike.

Artistic Director Luca Silvestrini’s desire to connect theatrical experience with real life stories results in witty shows, both on- and off-stage, that reflect the absurdity in everyday situations and experiences. Born in Jesi, Italy, Silvestrini trained at Bologna University and Laban, he has worked on a number of large-scale cross-generational and participatory events, including the world record-breaking Big Dance Class, East London (which won a Visit London Gold Award) and Big World Dance 2010. He has won a Jerwood Choreography Award, a Bonnie Bird New Choreography Award and The Place Prize 2006 Audience Award, and was one of the first recipients of a Rayne Fellowship for Choreographers (2006). Protein was awarded the Critic’s Circle National Dance Award for Best Independent Dance Company 2011, and was nominated again in 2016. Protein is Associate Company with People Dancing, Resident Company at Greenwich Dance, Partner with Yorkshire Dance and ARC Stockton, and Luca Silvestrini is a Work Place Artist at The Place, London.

@proteindance | #bordertales |

Running Time: 80 minutes | Suitable for ages 12+

Company Information

Conceived and Directed by Luca Silvestrini

Performed by:

Temitope Ajose Cutting, Eryck Brahmania, Andrew Gardiner, Kenny Wing Tao Ho, Stephen Moynihan, Yuyu Rau and musician Anthar Kharana

Devised by the original cast with Salah El Brogy, Stuart Waters, Femi Oyewole and Jodie Honeybourne

Music composed by Andy Pink                   Additional music by Anthar Kharana

Lighting design Jackie Shemesh                 Costume Stylist Valentina Golfieri

Assistant to Director Valentina Golfieri, Kip Johnson




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