Skype has long been used as a way for friends and family to stay in touch. The service is readily available on PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones and is often much cheaper for making domestic and international phone calls when not using the completely free text messaging, video chat or skype-to-skype call options it provides.
Skype has become a major part of our lives for lots of people and has even replaced the telephone as the main form of communication for many. This is especially the case with international families who are often divided by large geographical distances and need an affordable way to stay in touch.
A new play in the U.K. called, My Skype Family, tackles this reality head-on with its story based on two real-life families who remain separated as a result of stricter family migration rules introduced in July 2012 in the U.K. that requires family members to earn a certain level of minimum income to sponsor a spouse or family members from outside of Europe.
Andy, whose personal experience of being separated by his wife inspired one of the characters in the play, explains the emotional toll being physically separated from a loved one has had on him in an interview with the official Skype blog. “I felt helpless. I felt like half a man. I mean – not being able to keep my family together”. Andy’s wife, Molly, was forced to remain in China after the new laws came into effect, leaving her husband to raise their children in the U.K. by himself.
The Artistic Director of ice&fire theatre, Christine Bacon, who was instrumental in the play’s creation, found Skype to be a constant presence in the lives of the people he interviewed while researching the play and admits that, “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 premiered during the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love on the 4th of July in the U.K. and is currently in search on investors to give it a wider release.
Can you relate to the story in My Skype Family? How often do you use the app? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.Further reading: Microsoft, Skype, Skype for iPhone, Skype for Mac, Skype for Windows Phone