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Samuel shares insights on immigrant experience

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

The Perfect Immigrant, a poetry play by Irish-Nigerian performer and poet Samuel Yakura, will be staged at Galway’s Town Hall theatre next Monday, November 27, as part of a national tour.

This piece was originally commissioned by the Dublin Fringe Festival and sold out at that event last year, where it received two Fringe award nominations before going to have a second, sold-out Dublin run at Smock Alley.

Directed by Katie O’Halloran whose credits include working with Druid Theatre, The Perfect Immigrant explores what a young Black man – recently arrived in Ireland – might have to say when he isn’t speaking about racism.

Levi, who is busy trying to become an adult, leaves Nigeria and settles in Dublin, learning that he needs to find a way to retain his connections with his birthplace while forging new ones in Ireland.

Samuel Yakura weaves poetry and prose through the piece as he teases audiences by exploring the discomfort that’s experienced by a young immigrant as he settles into a new land.

People can take sides as Levi explores various dilemmas, including how his loyalty to home is tested by the promise of his new life. And a fundamental question he faces in Dublin is where to buy a decent chili pepper in Lucan!

That particular challenge, linguistic differences and occasional racism were among the dilemmas Samuel faced when he arrived in Ireland five years ago to do Master’s in civil engineering. He had previously been involved with creative writing in Nigeria and soon found his tribe in this country.

He co-founded the Dublin-based performance collective d WeAreGriot, which curates poetry slams, plays, workshops and other shows in Ireland – Griot is a term used to describe West Africah poets and singers who keep the oral flame alive. He also received The President’s Gaisce Award and has been commissioned by the Wavelength Asylum Seekers Initiative/Project for poetry and performance work. And, Samuel, who has many strings to his bow, works as a model too.

Pictured: Samuel Yakura wrote and performs in this one-man show, which was commissioned by the Dublin Fringe Festival.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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