Monday, June 26, 2006

Message from a New York Grad Student Part I

Many of you may remember Jordan Suderman from his time as Stage Manager with Rorschach Theatre on The Master and Margarita and After the Flood. He has since moved on to grad school at NYU, but his heart and soul still belongs to Rorschach.

As proof of this affection he has been providing valuable dramatury work in conjunction with his assistant dramaturg Rachel Miller. I have asked Jordan to help us with a little bit of insight into the world of The Arabian Night, so here is the first in a series of entries from Jordan regarding the world of the play. Enjoy!

The Arabian Night: Germany

I'm rather excited to be contributing to this blog, partly because it's a fun place to be, but also because the nature of the play is such that the dramaturgy isn't necessarily self-evident from the audience's perspective, so I'm glad to have this opportunity to go on just a bit.

Today, I'm going to sketch a brief picture of the general situation of immigrants in Germany since World War II. The economic boom experienced in the 50s and 60s throughout much of Western Europe led to a need to hire more workers. This need resulted in guestworker agreements with other European and Mediterranean countries, where said countries would send workers to nations like Germany to work for a couple of years and then return. The problem was that many of these people were not returning, and were bringing over or establishing families. When economic crisis hit in the mid 70s, Germany had its highest number of non-Germans since the start of the war, the largest group of which were immigrants from Turkey.

From the German perspective, there were no immigrants in Germany until 2004, when the first official immigration law was passed. Previous to 2004, there were just German citizens and non-German guestworkers, whose avenues to naturalization were heavily limited. The reforms of the past decades have been minimal, and even the law of 2004 was more concerned with bringing new highly-skilled workers into Germany and cracking down on terrorism than addressing the non-ethnic Germans living in Germany. Germany's approach to citizenship, until recently solely based on blood, stands in contrast to approaches like those of France or the United Kingdom, which also consider birthplace to varying degrees.

In my next installment, I will take a closer, yet brief look at Turks and Arabs in Germany today.


Thehairyape said...

kudos for bring the plays world into perspective, it's great to have someone point out how timely this play is visa vi the current immigration debate in our own country.

Anonymous said...

thanks...if i may speak non-objectively, while i might grant that the us has done a better job than europe in terms of immigration, i find it priceless that part of the "improvements" to our "superior" policies is the president's call to implement a guestworker program...just like europe in the 50s and 60s!

the absence of logic to this government is astounding...