Socialist Worker

They Get Free Mobiles Don’t They?

by Keith McKenna
Issue No. 2099

Anyone angry at the media’s constant attacks on asylum seekers will enjoy Banner Theatre Company’s latest production.

It is a story of refugees fleeing communities disrupted by the West, told in a series of exciting songs and humorous sketches.

These frame filmed interviews with people who have arrived in Birmingham from Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Iraq.

The show systematically demolishes the myths about asylum seekers.

It opens with the performers playing fast fiddle music to a film of solitary figures running in the night and then shifts to various musical styles as we hear the individual tales.

The real story of the connection between mobile phones and refugees is told in a savagely satiric sales pitch.

Entrepreneurs are offered the Congo as a land of opportunity for the world’s largest supply of coltan, the “magic ingredient” in all mobile phones that earns US companies billion of dollars.

This fuels a war in the DRC that leaves millions of people dead. But then “the corpses won’t show in the profit and losses”.

Britain itself is shown to be a harsh refuge which subjects refugees to appalling treatment and allows corporations to wreck communities.

Over film footage of the half-demolished remains of Birmingham’s Rover car factory, Banner sings a ferocious anthem of resistance.

The chorus lines end, “I’d rather shovel shit than be an entrepreneur.”

In writing the script, Dave Rogers drew on the work of campaigners and the experiences of members of Banner Theatre.

The bass guitar and keyboard player Tsepe Mukeba fled the Congo in 2003. The drummer Gaylan Nazhad escaped a death sentence for political activity in Kurdish Iraq in 2000.

The show ends with the call for the kind of unity that brought two million people to the London march against the war with Iraq.

Catch the show as it tours and buy the DVD to show friends.

They Get Free Mobiles Don’t They?
by Banner Theatre Company
Touring until July

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Article information

Tue 29 Apr 2008, 18:01 BST
Issue No. 2099
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