Helping Refugees Share Their Stories Through Theatre
We were delighted that one of our interpreters was able to help Ahmed, a refugee now living in Kent, participate in the fantastic Projekt Europa theatre workshops.
Projekt Europa is a new theatre company, founded by Maria Aberg to be outward-looking and international. It brings together three female migrant theatre-makers as they create collaborative, interactive performances. As Maria Aberg put it: “I want to collaborate in a profound way, not just arrive somewhere, perform the show and pack up our bags again. I’m interested in collaborating in a deeper way with community groups and audiences”. Projekt Europa is keen to involve both professionals and non-professionals in its work. This is why it invites community members to participate, exploring the boundaries of co-creation, participation and performance.
The company has taken up residence at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury and is putting this ethos into practice through a series of workshops and intimate performances.
Theatre that shares refugees’ stories
The project under development, titled We Are the Stories, is formed of three separate pieces of work, each headed by one of the core members of Project Europa. Maria Aberg’s piece is titled Let Your Hands Sing in the Silence, and is based around the concept of the family tree and reconstructing memories, explored through the performer Robert Lučkay’s own life. In addition, the piece invites local migrant communities to share, develop and perform their own memories alongside his.
To develop Let Your Hands Sing in the Silence, Projekt Europa collaborated with KRAN (Kent Refugee Action Network) to enable local refugees and asylum seekers to participate in a series of theatrical workshops. One of these participants, Ahmed, does not have fluent English. As a result, Clear Voice entered the picture!
How our interpreter Kafi supported the theatrical workshops
Our wonderful interpreter Kafi supported Ahmed through the workshops, enabling him to participate fully. There were a variety of activities, all aimed at drawing out memories of family, home, and the importance of those connections. For instance, the group remembered five key events from their lives, they created chalk floorplans of their childhood homes and they shared dances they could remember from their childhood. Ahmed shared a dance that he remembered being used in wedding celebration. The workshops also asked “what do you do to make yourself feel at home?” and physically recreated those moments.
As Maria Aberg develops Let Your Hands Sing in the Silence, elements from these exploratory workshops are fed into it. The recent series of workshops culminated with a limited performance. This gave an invited audience the opportunity to glimpse what has been created so far and offer feedback.
The impact of interpreting
Our interpreter Kafi was present throughout, ensuring that Ahmed could understand everything that was said, and be understood himself. This was incredibly valuable to the sharing atmosphere of the workshops. Above all, it ensured that everyone involved connected and resulted in a memorable experience. Everyone was able to take something away.
Katie Clark from Projekt Europa said “The interpreter totally changed Ahmed’s ability to take part and understand. It was a really wonderful thing to see happen. He could connect with everyone in the group and everybody could build that connection with him. We are all incredibly grateful for that. Kafi was very sensitive, really generous, and I could really see his commitment to interpreting”