‘Reisegruppe heim-weh!’ was a performative sightseeing tour by coach, which traced the daily routines and perceptions of refugees in Leipzig. Asylum-seekers became tour guides, and citizens of Leipzig became tourists in their own city. With the stories told by the performers and events along the route, participants took a trip to the ‘unknown’ and were confronted with their own prejudices and given a new perspective on familiar streets. […]

The project creators first looked at the prejudices refugees face in Leipzig by interviewing citizens, politicians, and welcome initiatives. Refugees were also interviewed in order to understand how they feel about living in Leipzig. Thirtyeight viewers saw each performance with six actors leading the two-hour tour in a coach bus around the city. Tour guides spoke in several languages and audience members were given headphones to listen to translations and to music when appropriate. Actors told stories of their memories from home when passing places in Leipzig that reminded them of the country they left.

Audience members also watched scenes common to asylum-seekers take place outside of the bus, such as tired German bureaucrats endlessly stamping papers and people loitering outside of the accommodation where many asylum-seekers are placed. In addition to its informative aspects, this interactive performance allowed asylum-seekers and Leipzig natives to get to know each other. During the show’s ‘intermission,’ which took place at a community park, family members of actors setup food and drink to foster conversations between performers and audience members.

Due to its popularity, the performance extended its run and an exhibition was made to document its process. The project developers are considering taking the initiative to other cities.

[from Creation and Displacement: Developing new narratives around migration, IETM 2016].

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