Those first little baby steps, reading a bedtime story to your kids, or even helping your mum and dad decide the color of their new lounge — Skype has always been a great way to bring family closer together, even when they’re apart.
But how about using it as a lifeline to keep a family together over the longer term? Believe it or not, that’s exactly how some people have been using their computers and smart phones.
In a new documentary play that explores the fragility of the family unit and the importance of daily communication, My Skype Family explores how the wonders of technology actually helps families stay together — even while they’re forced to live in different countries.
These true stories revolve around the UK government’s radical change of family migration rules in July 2012 — a law that added a new minimum income requirement for British nationals wanting to sponsor children, spouses or close family members from outside Europe.
Documenting the stories of Kelly and Indian husband Amit who has yet to meet his daughter; Peter and Tanya, who found that the new laws left Tanya’s mother ineligible to join them in the UK; and Andy and his Chinese wife Molly who had to wait in China, leaving their young sons without their mother.
Actors and their real-life counterparts
Of the new laws, Andy says, “I felt helpless. I felt like half a man. I mean – not being able to keep my family together”.
While researching for the play, Christine Bacon, Artistic Director of ice&fire theatre saw a common theme: “Each family I spoke to repeatedly talked about Skype as a lifeline, a crucial part of keeping their family relationships alive through enforced separation”.
My Skype Family saw its UK debut at the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love on July 4, 2015 and hopes to find investors for a national tour.
We’d love to hear how Skype helps you stay together with your family despite the distance. Share your story here.