Documentary Theater Mediterranean Migration Monologues

Mediterranean Migration Monologues © Luca Abbiento


Goethe-Institut New York

The Mediterranean Migration Monologues (“Mittelmeer-Monologe”) tell the stories of Naomie from Cameroon and Yassin from Libya, who find themselves on a boat to Europe. It also tells of brutal coast guards, dubious sea rescue centers, and activists who fight against migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea.

The activists are part of the project AlarmPhone as well as the German non-governmental organization Seawatch. They convince coast guards to search after people in distress at sea and train volunteers to rescue people from drowning. In short, they do what can no longer be taken for granted in 2019: They save human lives.

The Mediterranean Migration Monologues are documentary, verbatim theater based on many hours of interviews, which reconstruct real cases of sea rescues in order to narrate from the perspective of those affected—both refugees and activists. One of these cases shows the particularly brutality of the Libyan coast guard.

On November 6, 2017, a Seawatch rescue ship and a Libyan coast guard ship sailed simultaneously toward a migrant boat with 150 passengers on board. Two competing rescue operations began, and while Seawatch saved 59 people, at least 20 people drowned and 47 people were brought back to Libya—imprisoned, beaten, sold, and tortured.

The events of November 6 were elaborately reconstructed by Forensic Architecture in their video Mare Clausum as well as in a video by the New York Times, “How Europe Outsources Migrant Suffering at Sea”. By interviewing two people closely involved that day for many hours, Actors for Human Rights director Michael Ruf provides the personal stories behind this definitive case.

The opening of the Mediterranean Migration Monologues took place almost exactly five years after the founding of AlarmPhone in 2014, and tells of several cases of sea rescue by this activist network. In the five years since, the organization has accompanied and supported 2,800 boats in distress. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and includes a network of 200 activists from many cities in Europe and North Africa. It has developed a continuous infrastructure to support the struggle for the right to freedom of movement.

The Mediterranean Migration Monologues provide personal and intimate insights into the largely unknown work of AlarmPhone. It tells the story of people in distress, who dialed the AlarmPhone hotline, and of the activists who received the call, and their inspiring shared history.
Following the performance, there will be a Q&A with director Michael Ruf.

The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–New York Office, together with Goethe-Institut New York and the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School, is hosting a free performance of the Mediterranean Migration Monologues of the Bühne für Menschenrechte (Actors for Human Rights) in New York City.

Mediterranean Migration Monologues cast Abraham Makany, photo by Andrew Steinman | Sandra Maren Schneider, photo by Lauren Toub | Tomike Ogugua, photo by Jamil AC Mangan | Antu Yacob, photo by David Noles