Home Away From Home, #1 – 2021

For centuries, many people have migrated to other countries to work and earn money. Today, this global labor migration is one of the most complex and at the same time invisible phenomena of our society. In some states or cities, for example in Singapore or Dubai, migrant workers now make up the vast majority of the population, but with very limited rights and sometimes precarious living conditions. Migrant workers also fill important gaps in Germany – they work in home care, in industry, in the construction sector. Dresden-based Taiwanese choreographer Fang Yun Lo and her colleagues – Ho Chi Minh City-based choreographer Ngo Thanh Phuong and Berlin-based Taiwanese set designer Cheng Ting Chen – have interviewed more than 100 affected people in Germany and Taiwan on this topic since 2018, mostly through spontaneous encounters at the workplace, in stores, snack bars and stores. They have focused on the stories of Vietnamese immigrants. immigrants – also because their story mirrors the German history of division and reunification in a very special way. What promises and desires lead young people from Vietnam and other countries of the “global south” into these dependencies? How do they differ from the guest and contract workers of the 1980s? How do these conditions manifest themselves for those affected in each case and what does this tell us about our societies? “Home Away From Home” weaves a touching, polyphonic journey through the theater and the world from all these memories. Six performers from Germany and Taiwan, whom the audience meets at various stations, tell their stories of global migration and intercultural reality, but at the same time also report on the complex history of a divided German state and the xenophobia in East Asian industrialized countries such as Taiwan, which is still little reflected today. 

Fang Yun Lo (Dresden/Essen/Taichung), Artistic Director 

I have often started theater projects with my own experiences – and this time is no exception. The difference is that this project is not about me, but about “us”. Vietnamese immigrants in Germany and Taiwan are at the center of the project, they stand as a symbol for the immigrants and emigrants of this world. It is a great task for me to enter another culture and to come into contact with the people. Each of the more than 100 interviews I have conducted was not just a “normal” interview to collect material – it was always a moving and beautiful experience to dive into a private memory together. This special, empathetic moment is also what we want to share with the audience:inside on stage. Ultimately, we are not concerned with Vietnamese or migrants, but with people. 

Cheng Ting Chen (Taipei/Berlin), stage design 

In 2020, I have worked in theater for 15 years and lived in Germany for 10 years. In the course of this staging process, I have constantly rediscovered my identity in the world and myself. But I was also able to learn a lot about the history and inevitability of migration, about flight, beginnings and the return of different people. The stage installation I am creating for the piece draws on these experiences: How can the senses and thinking in theater be opened through spaces and objects so that we can better understand others and ourselves? 

Ngô Thanh Phương (Ho Chi Minh City), co-director 

As a Vietnamese artist, I am concerned in this theater project with the way of thinking of old as well as young Vietnamese people, in different circumstances, in different places. I hope this production will teach us Vietnamese people the power of contemporary art by confidently bringing our reality to a wide audience through our bodies and voices. But it is also a journey from the past to the present, from Vietnam to Taiwan and from Vietnam to Germany. Working on this project was and is really a big, moving journey for me.

Co-production PACT Zollverein Essen, Cloud Gate Theater Taipei, HELLERAU Dresden