Dreams and nightmares of Venezuela in ‘Memories of a Lullaby’

As Venezuela sinks deeper into its economic crisis, with some reports claiming it could soon become a ‘Somalia in the Caribbean’, it can be easy for those outside the country to overlook all its positive aspects: its spectacular beauty, its diverse culture, and its warm and friendly people.

Taking place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Wed 15 and Thu 16 June, Memories of a Lullaby: The Need to Remember & the Wish to Forget is a one-woman show by Saras Feijoo, exploring the difficulty of remembering Venezuela from the point of view of someone who has left the country – the impossibility of forgetting the bad without drowning out the good.   

Born in Caracas, Saras spent the first 25 years of her life in Venezuela before moving abroad to pursue her dream of becoming a performer. Her years away from home, eight of them spent in Scotland, have highlighted to her the horror of what once seemed like everyday events: seeing her first dead body at the age of 8; being kidnapped by corrupt police; walking through riots and tear gas to get to university…

Rather than providing political commentary on the worsening situation, the show is a personal exploration of past experiences. Saras creates snapshots of the country, its culture and people – its beautiful landscapes, its lively Latin rhythms, even its string of Miss Universe winners – but also dives into the grim reality of what the country has undergone, and continues to experience.

The piece also takes full advantage of Saras’ varied professional background. A multidisciplinary artist, she studied philosophy and fashion design before deciding to become a clown, and later moved into dance, physical theatre and visual arts. Memories of a Lullaby is in part a project of bringing together these disparate practises: it begins with storytelling and physical theatre before Saras creates a painting on stage, playing with emotions and colours and cleverly connecting them to the memories described.

Though set in Venezuela, the stories of love and fear told in Memories of a Lullaby will strike a chord with viewers from all over the world. What ultimately comes out of the show is hope: hope for the people of Venezuela and those of other struggling countries; that – as Saras herself puts it – “they can be their own light at the end of the tunnel”.

Memories of a Lullaby is part of Refugee Festival Scotland and will be followed by a Q&A session and Silent Auction of the painting created during the performance. Suzi Maciver, Arts & Cultural Development Officer at Scottish Refugee Council, says:  

“Refugee Festival Scotland brings together people from refugee and receiving communities to celebrate the contribution refugees make to life in Scotland and the welcome offered to them by local people.  

“It is particularly important this year in order to celebrate the warm welcome and helping hands Scots are extending to men, women and children fleeing persecution and conflict in countries such as Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan during the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

“The festival offers communities the chance to speak for themselves, to define themselves on their own terms and in their own voices. Saras Feijoo’s Memories of a Lullaby allows us to hear multiple true stories and helps us understand why people are forced to flee their homes and seek safety in another country.”

Daniel Abercrombie, Programme & Events Manager of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, says: “We are delighted to host Memories of a Lullaby as part of the Refugee Festival Scotland. The Festival does a great job of highlighting the contribution refugees make to life in Scotland and we look forward to welcoming Saras Feijoo to the Storytelling Centre to perform her show.”

Saras performs Memories of a Lullaby at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Wed 15 & Thu 16 June. Book tickets.