My name is David Furlong. I’m a long-listed nominee for the Offies as Best Director.

I am a Mauritian director, trained at the National Theatre in France and I chose London 10 years ago to develop professionally and start a family.

My company’s logo, Exchange Theatre, is a bridge. It represents the one I built across the channel ever since, and between continents and people.

With humility, I translate, I produce, direct, I give work to actors sometimes with a budget, sometimes on a profit share, I hire designers, I take masterclasses, I drive vans, I carry armchairs on the tube, I give community drama classes, I work hard.

Last month, on the 8th of June, I was part of a panel at the Young Vic, talking to the Genesis network of directors about creating International collaborations. This helped me measure my journey: as tough as it was getting there, I felt I now had a voice as a foreign practitioner in this wonderful city that is London for the arts. On the 15th of June, I was opening my company’s Ninth edition of our annual bilingual festival and more specifically the Moliere piece I’m directing alternately in French and English. This was in London and I was giving an interview (to This Week London) saying how hard it was to make foreign theatre in the Uk, how it was such a small niche, but I was hopeful.

On the 23rd, I voted for the first time in the Uk as a commonwealth citizen, and felt a sense of belonging to this country like never before.

Then, on the 24th of June, I woke up in a very different country from the one I moved to in 2006, even from the one I voted in the day before. Hopes collapsed, fears arisen, I thought of my daughter growing up here, feeling British but with a French passport... I thought of the work I had been doing here for a decade, bringing more than forty major unknown European plays to the British audience, bringing most of the practice I learnt here to wherever I worked in the rest of the world.

How was I to feel but marginalised? What was next? - No one knew, and still no one knows because no one planned for this to happen. That’s the thing with progress, you never think you’d go back-

On the 26th of June, I was starting a workshop on multilingualism, with twelve European nationalities, facilitated by veteran international UK company Border Crossing. We were all stunned, but kept calm and carried on mixing Danish and Greek in our work. And then on the 29th, To my astonishment, I was nominated for an Offie as Best Director!

All these opposing signals were very hard to process and make sense of. Just when I was thinking about giving up directing to focus on my acting career, for the first time in years, when I truly felt directing wasn’t going anywhere or making sense to anyone else than myself, I was given a form of recognition by my peers. By my British peers. I was thankful and confused at the same time. I spent a fortnight doing what you need to do with such great news, promoting my show, getting some publicity out of it.

Tomorrow, the 13th, is the last show so this is no publicity stunt, but I still needed to make sense of it. Yesterday, the 11th of July, I was invited to be part of the Devoted and Disgruntled conversation on How to create a European Union of artists, hosted by Improbable at the Barbican. Throughout this day of hard-work, I went again through all the phases of grief, doubt and fear but the true meaning hidden behind this nomination started to appear. It's remarkable that our bilingual European work gets nominated in the current circumstances. It means a lot. Maybe precisely because the work we've been doing with my company for ten years, creating theatre beyond borders, does mean a lot after all ! Maybe because Culture means a lot, and should be much more present in the current debate after the Brexit vote.

EU is not perfect but it has brought us more stability, peace, prosperity, mobility and diversity than most countries on the planet would dream of and I’m a product of the Uk being part of it: as a theatre maker, I owe much of my practice of a generous and open theatre to what I learnt from the English theatre world. Starting as an usher at the ROH to facilitating workshops myself at the YV, with many incredibly formative years of workshops at the National, the Barbican, Living Pictures, Oval House, 503 and many many more... The Uk that made me the director I am today is inclusive through the power of the Culture and Education that it has. I could never have developed such a sense of the other in any other place than London. Our artists and our facilitators, are the most altruistic in the sharing of their knowledge. The chances everyone gets to be taught are countless and I have numerous examples of learning very equally from major practitioners. Then yesterday, at D&D, all these very British practitioners who all gave me so much were worried and sad, betrayed by their own, some were even tearful.

And I could see clearly that even my fellow British artists felt marginalised. 

This means that despite Brexit, I am not a foreigner just working in the Uk anymore, on the contrary, I belong here even more. I want to say thank you, to the Uk artists who empowered me, I want to tell you that I will not leave. I will stay by your side to ask the right questions.

All across Europe today, we see the economic interests have disfigured the Eu, the rejection and hatred of Europe is not just British or English. It’s shared in the whole Western world. And the new responses are closure against foreigners, against the poor, against the rich people, against the politics, the bankers, the unemployed, the press...The current responses are only rejections, exclusions, destruction and departures: this is Amnesia and it makes so much space for a return to extreme nationalism everywhere.

Our response has to be culture, education, diversity, hard work, all the things that I received. And through my work I will continue building cultural bridges, and closing gaps, and continue contribute to the cultural landscape of what is now my country. Because there is a real danger of Brexit being just the start of very dark times, I will share what I was given more than ever and continue the work I’m doing at educating, informing, producing theatre that links people to what they’re unfamiliar with. We’re story-tellers, we can write a different narrative with artistic values of culture, love, sharing and the sense of the other.