The Other Solos is a series of YouTube monologues from the plays of William Shakespeare that tackle issues of migration, exile and identity, performed by foreign actors with their native accents. This project was born in June 2017, in the light of recent socio-political events around the world, such as the rise of populism and anti-immigration sentiment. We are now proud to be joining 1 Day Without Us, a campaign that like ours, aims to raise awareness on how the current situation for migrants is becoming more fragile, and how important it is to take pride in what it means to be a foreigner in these difficult times. As migrants, our accents, our traditions, our work, and all that we bring to society makes us essential and relevant not only to the UK but to the global community. We believe that a multicultural society is a healthier and a richer one, and Shakespeare has a lot to say on the subject.
The Other Solos offers a unique perspective on some of Shakespeare’s most compelling monologues. These extracts are performed by international artists who seek to celebrate rather than hide their foreign accents as they speak English. The series is a stark reminder that many of Shakespeare’s characters are foreigners themselves, confronting issues that are not as distant from our own era as they might seem. From shipwrecks to warlords, his plays speak of human beings exposed to the difficulties and injustices of exile and banishment. In a world where discussion around national origins and national identity are often plagued with divisive and confrontational rhetoric, Shakespeare’s words are today more poignant than ever.
The cast is formed of six actors Lise Aagaard (Denmark), Liraz Chamami (Israel), Hervé Goffings(France), Paul Sebastian Mauch (Argentina), Konstantinos Kavakiotis (Greece), and myself Paula Rodríguez (Spain). Each actor brings a very strong and personal point of view to their selected pieces – and they all know their Shakespeare. They also know what it feels like to be a foreigner in a country with a different context, perspective, weather, food, humour, rules – and which presents very particular challenges to those seeking to build an artistic career here.
As a foreign artist working with Shakespeare you are constantly liable to find yourself accused of cultural appropriation, but his work belongs to everyone and has become part of the common heritage of mankind. His vision of the world is boundless. With this project, we wanted to inspire active debate, and reach out to a wide international audience that may or may not be familiar with the tribulations of his characters, which are in so many ways, the same as ours.
Given these priorities, collaborating with 1 Day Without Us seems like the perfect match. This initiative is so relevant and necessary and touches on the core of the issue: What would this country be like without immigrants? Even just for one day. The current political strategy too often blames the UK’s economic and social problems on migrants, as if banning immigration could solve them by itself, when statistics clearly show that the reality would be very different. Even so, all this political nonsense has had a direct and immediate impact on the lives of many people.
Since the 2016 Referendum there has been a change in the perception of what it means to be an immigrant, and there is a lot of confusion and fear about how this will affect migrants in the future. So this project was a direct reaction to the post-Referendum context and we have sometimes been called ‘anti-Brexit Shakespeare’s as result. But like 1 Day Without Us what we really strive for goes beyond politics. We are sending out a call for humanity, common sense and kindness. We wish to raise awareness, and in order to do so we would love to reach a wide and eclectic audience with very different views and realities.
We urge people to take part in the events of the 17th February 2018, because this is important if you yourself are an immigrant and you want to feel empowered and proud of who you are. It is no less important if your neighbour is an immigrant, or your best friend, or your partner, or your grandparents were, because, let’s face it, the history of the world is the history of migration, and if you have any doubts about that – just read some Shakespeare.
Visit our Youtube channel to view the series here.
The Other Solos team is formed by: Paula Rodriguez (Producer and Director), Dominik Webb, (Filmmaker), Patricia Rodriguez (Producer), Ben Naylor (Text coach) and Carmen Marrero (Music).
By Paula Rodriguez