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British Red Cross and Bristol Old Vic tour powerful play and workshop in run up to Refugee Week

25 April 2013

For immediate release  Thursday, April 25, 2013
For further information  Rebecca McIlhone rmcilhone@redcross.org.uk
Contact number  0117 3012624 07525 128297

The British Red Cross and Bristol Old Vic theatre are collaborating for the first time on a tour of theatres and schools in Bristol and Bath – helping young people challenge the stigma around refugees.

The project combines performances of the play Mirad, Boy from Bosnia, with drama workshops run by the Red Cross. The overall aim is to raise awareness of the myths and stigma faced by refugees and asylum seekers and inspire young people to do something about it.

Written by Ad de Bont, directed by John Retallack and translated by Marian Buijs, Mirad, Boy from Bosnia is a searing portrayal of the impact of war on children. It tells the story of 13-year-old Mirad’s survival despite the loss of his parents, one dead, the other missing, in the Bosnian civil war.

The project, which takes place in the run-up to Refugee Week (17-23 June), is a unique collaboration between the theatre and the humanitarian organisation. The Red Cross is taking six performances of the play to schools that wouldn’t otherwise have seen it, as well as accompanying the tour of the play to the egg theatre in Bath and Bristol Old Vic’s Studio in June.

Daisy Dugmore, humanitarian education project manager for the Red Cross in Bristol, says: “The play is very hard-hitting and direct, getting straight to the heart of what it is to be a young person embroiled in a war situation, forced to flee, forced to become a refugee. It makes the audience really question what it would be like if they were to suddenly find themselves in a new country where they are not wanted.”

In our country a terrible wind has risen, a wind full of fire and rape.
And one day, a day I don’t remember, I don’t dare to remember, the wind blew me away.

Refugees don’t exist. Only blown away people exist. People blown by the wind all over the world.

Who would want to flee without saying goodbye to his own house, his own village or city, his own country, who would think of leaving his own family. And then arrive some place where you are not welcome.

Mirad, Boy from Bosnia.

Daisy developed the workshops during a Red Cross collaborative project with Opera Circus and a whole host of organisations, young people, artists and musicians in Srebrenica last month (March). She was staying very near to where Mirad is set and worked with young people who are living with the legacy of the conflict.

She says: “Our workshops aim to build young people’s resilience in a crisis and Mirad is an astonishing example of showing resilience in the most challenging of situations.”

“The workshops will use forum theatre  techniques to get people into a place of empathy and understanding and challenge them to create the next scene – if Mirad came to their school, what would they do next?

“I hope the combination of the play and workshop will challenge young people to think about the experiences of refugees coming to this country and give them the tools to challenge negative behaviour or stereotypes towards them.”

The Mirad performances are part of the Savage Children community tour, the first four-way Bristol Old Vic, Theatr Iolo, the Dukes, Lancaster and the egg, Bath, co-production. The principle is to stage two compatible and exciting plays that will generate real interest and debate amongst young people. The plays, Wild Girl and Mirad, a Boy from Bosnia, are both powerful stories about children who have to make the most life-changing decisions before they are 13 years old. Every partner theatre hosts the plays for two separate weeks, one of which goes out to schools and community, the second in which audiences come to the theatre venue.

The ten-week tour includes eight performances in the Bristol Old Vic’s Studio Theatre during Refugee Week itself. Daisy and other Red Cross staff and volunteers will be running a pre-show workshop and after-show discussions at Bristol Old Vic during Refugee Week and the Red Cross refugee services team will have a display stand at the theatre.

For more information about the Red Cross visit redcross.org.uk

ENDS

Notes to editors

A media opportunity is available on May 2, at Fairfield Academy in the morning or Brunel Academy in the afternoon.

Timings:
Fairfield Academy: Performance 9am-10am. Workshop 10.05am-10.50am. or Performance 10am-11am. Workshop 11.10am-12noon.

Brunel Academy: Performance 1pm-2pm. Workshop 2.15pm-3.15pm.

Interview opportunities: Red Cross staff and some of the pupils involved will be available for interview. Please contact Rebecca McIlhone on 0117 3012624 07525 128297 if you would like to come along.

Savage Children will tour nationally from 6 May.
Bristol Old Vic Studio dates are as follows:

18 – 22 June
Bristol Old Vic Studio
7pm (double bill)
3pm (Sat matinee – Wild Girl only)
2pm (Wed & Thu matinee – Wild Girl only)
£12 / £8 (double bill)
£6 / £4 (single show)
Tickets: bristololdvic.org.uk / 0117 987 7877

Forum theatre empowers the participants to actively explore different options for dealing with shared problems and motivates them to make positive changes in their community.


The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.

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