Inua Ellams has been awarded the Liberty Human Rights Award for his one-man show, An Evening with an Immigrant.
The Nigerian-born playwright and poet – whose most recent work, Barber Shop Chronicles returns to the National Theatre next month – received Liberty’s Human Rights Arts Award at a ceremony at the Royal Court last night.
The reflective piece examines the UK’s complex relationship with immigration through the prism of Ellams’ personal experiences as an immigrant.
Commenting on the prize, Ellams said: “The point of the show, how it works, is to subtly demonstrate that behind the attention-grabbing negative headlines about mass migration – where immigrants such as myself and my family are described as cockroaches, job stealers, scroungers, thieves and freeloaders – are everyday ordinary folks who have had to leave their country and do the best they can to live with those they love.
“This right to live, to a safe family life, is a human one and however complicated our communities become, however dark or treacherous a political or social climate, those human rights are worth protecting.”
Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, added: “In an era of divisive anti-migrant rhetoric, discriminatory law-making and rising hate crime, Inua gave us a glimpse into the real lives behind the headlines. He has opened people’s minds to a new perspective – no doubt putting many on a path to activism.