‘Routes’ was a bilingual production in English and Punjabi based on interviews with older people who had come to Britain from the Indian Sub-Continent. It was of interest to wide audiences of different backgrounds and generations, who were curious about the experience of Asian immigrants. But it was of particular interest to audiences of Asian elders in different parts of the country where it stimulated a tremendous amount of discussion and further exchange of experience.
The show also had a very considerable appeal to audiences in other European countries. We toured the show in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, where most of the people who saw it didn’t speak English or Punjabi. The performances attracted many immigrants, both old and young. They responded to the show, probably because it worked very strongly through images, action and music, but also because the migrant experience portrayed in ‘Routes’ was common to many other groups of immigrants and stirred powerful emotional recognition. For example, in the Netherlands the people from the Maluccan Islands and from Surinam came to the show, in Belgium we had people from Moroccan backgrounds and in Germany the show attracted large numbers of Turkish people. A Turkish member of the audience in Cologne said, “I did not understand a word they said, but I understood everything!’
‘Routes’ also played to children, especially in London’s multicultural schools where it triggered a great deal of written work and reflection, which the teachers greatly appreciated. Some of the children who were new immigrants saw themselves in the story; others recognized stories told by their parents and grandparents. Many older people from ethnic minority backgrounds visited schools to share their own migration experience following performances, and the show elicited a great deal of valuable follow-up work in the classroom.