In a departure for Saras Feijóo – up until now her theatre work has primarily been in the area of clowning – this performance blends real-time chalk sketching with physical interpretations and autobiographical storytelling. She performs Memories of a Lullaby as part of Refugee Festival Scotland.
Piecing together her Venezuelan background, her outsider viewpoint (as a result of living outside her home country for eleven years), and the residual trauma that lingers in her psyche, Feijóo meditates on the impossibility of remembering the good times while forgetting the many negative aspects of life growing up in Venezuela. In this world, child’s play is disturbed by gunshots, while a phone call taken in public leads to a mugging. Wearing a watch risks losing a hand and an oppressive atmosphere of machismo permeates throughout the accounts of police kidnappings and armed robberies.
Feijóo is an engaging, warm performer who actively makes eye contact with her audience, interacting with and making introductions to the crowd. Often child-like when performing memories and accounts from friends and family members, there is a blurring of truth and perception, which mirrors the confusion of the oppressed Venezuelan population.
For audience members without a knowledge of recent Venezuelan history, a more detailed back story would have been of benefit, as describing a beautiful land where all of a sudden everything was taken away from the people seems rather simplistic. It seems to be Feijóo’s wish to focus on the humanitarian element of the crisis rather than making this an overtly political piece.
Feijóo’s zoning in on the daily struggles of surviving in a society on the verge of collapse and the trauma of spending her formative years in a violent and increasingly dangerous world, makes for an unsettling tale. Ending with a desperately honest letter from Venezuela, Memories of a Lullaby is a timely reminder in this era of global humanitarian crises: we must not be blind to the countries whose corrupt governments are effectively barricading them from the rest of the world by not investing in vital infrastructure and allowing amenities that already exist to disintegrate.