Fiction mirrors fact for young actors in a thought-provoking new play about refugees

posted : 20th June 2016

When it comes to taking on the parts of two characters from immigrant backgrounds, you could not pick two actors more suited to the roles.

Sister and brother Alda and Ardit Daci play the parts of Maryam and Guled in a new play called Stacked! at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre in July.

The siblings, who both work for Dover-based Migrant Help UK, are themselves both immigrants from Albania, and each play characters in the play that mirror many aspects of their own experiences in coming to Britain.

Told in flashback, it is the story of refugees and lorry drivers caught up in a traffic jam caused by Operation Stack while on their way to and from Dover. The characters all end up in The Canterbury Tales pub where their individual stories unfold.

Alda, 21, and Ardit, 18, came to the UK in 2013. Since then, they have made their homes in east Kent.

Combining study, work and their love of acting, the pair jumped at the chance to play the roles in the play written and directed by Andrew Dawson, Head of Creative Projects at the Marlowe Theatre.

Alda said: “It’s about getting people to think about how the UK has played such an important part in helping refugees in the past in things and about how history often repeats itself.

“That was what drew me to the role, but working with Migrant Help UK too has given me an important perspective on the plight of refugees.”

Ardit said: “When I got the part I wanted to represent all the young refugees who have fled their countries for various reasons. I want to build a character based on my personal experience as a migrant but also on the knowledge that I’ve gained through Migrant Help UK by working with refugees.”

Alda, who lives in Dover, and Ardit, who lives in Folkestone, both receive a bursary for acting classes from Marlow Youth Theatre. In the two years they have been with the company, they have performed in and helped to direct several plays and have even met up with Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom, who is a patron of the organisation.

A Migrant Help UK spokesman said: “As a charity, we’ve always believed that the arts and sport are excellent ways of helping migrants, refugees and asylum seekers integrate into their new communities. Alda and Ardit are the perfect choices for their roles and we’re sure it’ll be a success.”