Black Theatre Live


The Arrival

The Arrival: co-created by Kristine Landon-Smith and Sita Brahmachari inspired by the celebrated graphic novel by Oscar winning Shaun Tan. 

Dele plays a last game of football with his friends, says goodbye to his son and sets off on a voyage to a smog-filled metropolis across the sea.

Carrying only a small suitcase he embarks on a journey into the unknown. Others he meets along the way share his dream of building a home in a new city and being joined by their families. 

A moment of kindness in a sea of unfamiliarity… A long, hard day at work… 
A lively party… A nostalgic lullaby…

Based on the illustrated novel by Oscar winner Shaun Tan, one man’s tale echoes the many ‘arrivals’ happening around us all the time. This epic migration story unfolds through an extraordinary weaving together of theatre, circus and music.

The Arrival (originally produced by Tamasha Theatre Company and Circus Space) received a limited middle scale tour of five venues and performances in 2013 achieving 60% capacity over the tour. For its beauty and compassion Tan’s novel has become a classic text read by an inter-generational, multi-lingual and diverse audience. We have been asked on many occasions to remount the work. The Arrival speaks to people’s hearts and now more than ever it feels timely to bring this humane story back to the stage to reach a wider audience as we live through the largest refugee movement of people into Europe since WW2. Both Circus Space and Tamasha are keen to shape collaborative or associate relationships with a remount of the work.

The Arrival is created from BAME artists from hugely diverse backgrounds for whom the story of migration is integral to their lives and artistic practice. The planned re-mounted production aims to extend the script to include the recent experience of newly arrived refugees and migrants into Britain, their integration stories and their experience in ‘The Calais Jungle’ and refugee camps in neighboring countries. Key creatives Kristine Landon-Smith and Sita Brahmachari also have a vision and expertise for associated outreach work with theatre and communities.

The Arrival tells a story of the timeless human need and aspiration to migrate and seek refuge in new homelands. Influenced by the quirky, humorous, dislocating sepia imagery of Tan’s novel, the production explores the experience of being suspended between worlds, looking back to childhood and loved ones left behind and forward to an unknown future in an alien land, language and culture.

In our adaptation Dele migrates to Britain from Africa in 1950’s and the story is told through his eyes as he narrates his memories and insights to his carer, also a migrant. The present day narrative is set in a terraced house that Dele has renovated himself as lodgings for refugee and migrant people all in search of a more permanent place to call home. Like the owl in Tan’s imagery Dele is witness to the stories in the house, past and present.  His heart, though old and failing, goes out to each new wave of arrivals.

The work is an integration of a poetic narrative text, circus, choreography, projection, music and sound scape with intrepid and viscerally effecting circus performance throughout the production: the last game of football played by Dele before his departure, a treacherous ship crossing, the discovery of an alien city and a raucous birthday party to celebrate Dele’s 80th year.

This seamlessly integrated vision of The Arrival was developed over several periods of research and development with circus artists and refugee and migrant groups.