“A Place to Stay: Memories of Pensioners from Many Lands” was a production inspired by the memories of ethnic minority elders. With over 44 contributors in eight languages including Italian, Gujerati, Greek, Polish, Turkish, Punjabi, Chinese and Hindi, they share their experience of travelling from across the globe to settle in England. So many of these immigrants thought they would be returning home after a few years, after improving their own and their families’ living standards. But it turned out very differently, as the elders explain in their own words.
The play was researched over several months with recorded interviews conducted in mother-tongues, transcribed in the original language and then translated into English. The production was developed by Pam Schweitzer, the writer/director, with a very talented multiracial cast of actors and the musical director, Jo Richler. It was first performed in 1984 and toured the UK playing to elders in lunch clubs, meeting places, day centres and schools, as well as theatres and community centres. It travelled to Frankfurt to participate in the first festival of ethnic minority theatre.
You can watch the production by following the video link. There is also a link to the script which includes the lyrics to the songs, and you can also read the book of memories and photographs which inspired the production. This was the first ever publication drawing together the experiences of elders from different ethnicities, told in their own words and mother tongue.
If you are interested in more of the work that has been done with Ethnic Elders, please have a look at the Remedies and Recipes book, which features Caribbean elders memories on health and diet – this can be found among the materials associated with the show Can We Afford the Doctor?