Blessing, a migrant mother evicted from the CARA of Castelnuovo di Porto leaves the structure in Castiglione di Porto, Italy, 23 January 2019 | Photo: ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI
Blessing, a migrant mother evicted from the CARA of Castelnuovo di Porto leaves the structure in Castiglione di Porto, Italy, 23 January 2019 | Photo: ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI

The play "Io ero io" (I was me) tackles trauma and identity. It was inspired by the experiences of 15 refugees. "I was me" was created through a theater project in Milan, Italy, which brought together refugees, playwrights, directors, and actors.

The play will open at the Franco Parenti Theater in Milan on June 26, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. 

The theme of the play is how to recover your identity. It is centered on a protagonist who wakes up in a place he doesn't recognize with an unknown object in his hand. He subsequently embarks on a journey with an imaginary friend to recompose the pieces of his history and discover his identity. 

Play inspired by refugee experiences
 
The play was created through a collaboration between the Accademia dei Filodrammatici in Milan and the ethnopsychiatry service of the Niguarda Hospital. It is part of the project "Teatro Utile" (Useful theater) 2019, under the patronage of UN Refugee agency UNHCR. 

15 refugees, six playwrights, two directors, four actors and two social workers are participating in the project. Niguarda Hospital psychiatrist Lorenzo Mosca and director Tiziana Bergamaschi of the Accademia Filodrammatici in Milan are leading the project. 

The goal is to help migrants who are in therapy for enduring torture and trauma process their experience. UNHCR explained in a statement that the play was inspired by the experiences of the participating refugees. 

Theater and art an occasion for inclusion 

"We believe it is important... to create occasions of inclusion, and theater and art can be fundamental tools for this objective", said Tiziana Bergamaschi, the project's creator and director. 

"UNHCR is honored to support this project that uses theater as a precious tool to allow torture survivors to express and elaborate their painful experiences", said  UNHCR spokeswoman for southern Europe Carlotta Sami. "These are experiences shared by many refugees and migrants arriving in Italy on which collective awareness is necessary." 
 

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