Poles Apart: coming near you

11:28 am - November 15th 2009

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contribution by Daniel Hoffman-Gill

Last year, sick and tired of the endless dirge of bigotry, lies and anti-Polish sentiment coming from the right-wing press, me and my mate Mark decided to go to Poland. We wanted to get a job; to put our money where our mouth is and garner a small taste of what it means to be an immigrant. We wanted to single-handedly reverse the Eastern European immigration trend.

So we got our CVs and covering letters translated (badly as it turned out) into Polish, put on our best interview clobber and made our way to Poland in a Vauxhall Astra.

We spent over two weeks as immigrants in Warsaw, ate a lot of lard and pigs feet and attempted to get any job we could, whether it be as a lift operator, a porn film star or a guttering and flues salesperson.

It was an amazing adventure that taught us much on the realities of life as an immigrant.

We eventually returned home and made a comedy show about our experiences that covers not only our time as economic migrants but documents the history of Poland, it’s 300 year relationship with the UK and the highly charged immigration debate in the UK.

The show contains Poland’s brightest new stand-up comedy star: Dariusz Drag, with jokes about Russians and Jews, a beginner’s guide to Polish culture, Political Correctness being wrestled to the floor and made to gag, the 1973 World Cup qualifier between England and Poland brought to life in front of your very eyes and Poland’s leading avant-garde theatre cooperative re-creating the invention of the Keroesne Lamp via interpative dance and extensive harmonica use.

Plus, Nick Griffin, avec eye patch, may be appearing to stroke his mandolin and sing his favourite ballad: “I’m Not Racist But…”

It’s on at The Lowry in Manchester on the 26th November at 7:45pm and the RichMix theatre in London on the 27th and 28th November at 7:30pm and I know a fair few Liberal Conspiracy commentators have long wished to see me in action, so why not pop along and support us?

To wet your whistle, how about a few videos of our adventure and the show itself?

Poles Apart from Hard Graft Theatre on Vimeo.

Poles Apart Trailer from Andonis Anthony on Vimeo.

And if you do come please feel free to stick around after and introduce yourself.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill is an actor, writer, director who has worked in TV, film and theatre professionally since 1997. Aside from Poles Apart recent work has included shows at the National Theatre, tours with Theatre Absolute and Daniel’s feature film debut ‘My Last Five Girlfriends’ which will be on general release in March 2010

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Story Filed Under: Arts ,Blog ,Humour ,Immigration

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Reader comments

Most excellent – though you might have considered a smarter interview outfit for the bank!

Trusting there is no Arts Council funding invoved in this project, I wish you well.

I know this is all done as a bit of a joke, but presumably getting on as a migrant worker (these days) is all about having some prior information and not cold calling at businesses out of the blue like was done here.
There are migrant workers in Poland (mostly from outside the EU I guess) and it would be wise for them to at least have some knowledge of were they were heading to and any communities from their own country that were already there, as well as knowing of employers (like with the English agricultural sector in places like Linconshire and Cambridgeshire that have become used to employing people from overseas.)

For example, I’ve heard that there are British people who work in Holland in the flower growing industry. If you’re a young Brit who fancies doing that for the summer, it would be best to find out everything you can prior to leaving home.
Where are these tulip farms that employ forieginers? How does the accomodation situation work out etc.


Indeed, we had limited packing and needed a versatile outfit but looking back, my choice of cloths and hair was a serious impediment to job seeking.


I’m not sure why any Arts Council funding is a deal breaker for you but thanks anyway.


Yes of course but in our research before we went and the numerous interviews with Poles over here, many talked of arriving and going door to door for work, esp. in the early days of the A8, also, Poles in the UK utilise the Polish community networks here, where we had none of that in Poland.

I think as an insight into being an immigrant, personally I found it quite tough, it it a lonely business and far from home and loved ones, as well as in an alien culture, it can be demoralising and I was only doing it as an adventure, rather than to feed my family or build a new life for myself.

Oh and ignore the silly imitation me, who seems to have missed the point that it is not about being a refugee.

Honestly, you old little stalker, if you love me so much, come and see me, if you dare that is.

It is not a charity gig Darren D, some cock pretending to be me thinks they are making a point, as if charging for tickets is some kind of crime against humanity.

Everyone will get a good show and I will get money out of it. What the fuck is wrong with that?

Nothing. Except that it is supported by the Arts Council.

So I have helped to pay for your holidays without having been asked whether or not I wish to contribute.

(If I have responded to one of your alter egos I apologise, but my point still stands. I do think Sunny’s going to have some trouble deciding which posts to delete from this thread……)

DHG, joking apart – I’d be most interested to know what it’s like to be a migrant worker in Poland today. I went that route in Germany myself 15 years ago and got a job as a kitchen worker in a large American hotel.
Maybe you should have tried the big international hotels like I did.

Then when you’d got a job and a place to stay, you could have sent out CVs and all the other stuff that (for example) the huge number of French people in London have done for the last decade. And who work in banks and other middle class jobs.

It takes time for communities to establish themselves often.
I remember that this pub in Berlin in the mid 90’s was a place for British and Irish building workers to go to, and was also a place where many people got jobs by meeting other people like themselves there. There was even a noticeboard in it where people put up jobs wanted notices, with contact numbers.


Now that I have been impersonated, I begin to appreciate how tedious this must have been for you. I doubted before that it had happened on a previous thread and it would seem I was quite wrong. Sincere apologies which I hope you will accept.

Sunny, to help you if you need it, any post above containing a swear word is not from me. It would be great if we could find some technological solution to prvent this recurring.

Suddenly DHG’s defence of the Arts Council a few weeks ago comes into greater focus:)


I think that what is odd is that Brits are not usually in the position of being economic migrants, so in Poland we were a real oddity and were treated very well more out of interest than anything else. And as we discovered the Poles have a very positive feeling towards Brits, however, I doubt that would have been the same if we were black and when job hunting a familiar refrain was “as long as you are not American”.

I think as a life experience, it is one I will cherish.


I’m sorry you had to experience it, it is very frustrating and exposes how easy it is to do it on here but am grateful that most people are not so idiotic as to try it.


To be clear, although I think I detect a smiley face, Poles Apart was not or is not Arts Council funded, Hard graft Theatre Company IS currently supported by the Arts Council but this show is actually profitable and able to make money to pay for itself.

Well I guess you can’t exactly pick and choose your venues, so fair enough.

Indeed, the Richmix’s current season is immigration so they approached us and the Lowry saw us when we first toured at the start of the year and picked us up from that.

Anyway, come if you can, be nice to meet people and put a face to a name.

Irony alert * I’m sick of jokes against Poles. Let’s start on the Jews and Russians. *

Probably worth pointing out that much of the kicking the Poles get is from Left wing politicians like Clare Short as a way of discussing the issues around immigration without bringing colour into it.


We touch on that in the show, in that Poles are a safer bet for people to attack as colour and religion is put aside, I’m not so sure that Claire Short has done this but the right-wing press certainly have.

I’d be interested to know what the feeling is towards Britain now in Poland after so many thousands of them have spent time here. Probably a mixed bag. I work with several eastern European guys (from Hungary, Romania, Poland and Lithuania), and they seem to get on fine with everybody. They seem as integrated into the social aspect of the workplace as the British, (who are mostly working class white, black and asian guys) in a warehouse setting; specialising in audio-visual and conferencing equipment (meaning that they have some skill in how to set up sound and lighting systems for conferences and meetings.)

I hope when they ‘go home’, that they say that the British are alright. And say they were treated well enough most of the time, and found many Brits to be friendly people.

So do I Damon, so do I!

Just got back from work then weird stalker/obsessive?

Ha, you make me laugh and hope to see you at the show dude.

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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