A leading Chester theatre company has been granted funding for an innovative theatre project focusing on issues around the refugee crisis.
Theatre in the Quarter has received a grant from Arts Council England to stage an ambitious production that will focus on the changing face of our towns and cities; as people escape war-torn countries and try to find sanctuary here in the UK.
The Lost Boy has been written by Stephanie Dale, writer of the highly acclaimed 2013 production of the Chester Mystery Plays.
Stephanie has been involved in several projects linked with the subject of displacement in various theatres in the UK over the past two years.
Directing the piece is Kate McGregor, whose recent work includes Gabrielle, starring Paul McGann, currently on a UK tour.
The original score has been composed by Matt Baker, who recently won an award for his outstanding contribution to the arts in Cheshire.
The play will be performed by four professional actors with a diverse community choir to be recruited in February.
The project has been in development for over a year, and has involved consultation with young people across Chester and Manchester who have shared their varied views and opinions on asylum seekers and refugees.
Theatre in the Quarter has also worked alongside two young asylum seekers, hearing their first-hand accounts of fleeing their own countries and how they have coped with their new lives in the UK.
Prior to the play’s run from April 21 to May 7 at St Mary’s Creative Space in Chester the company will tour secondary schools in March and April, offering in-depth workshops to teenagers in preparation for their visit to see the piece.
Theatre in the Quarter has worked with City of Sanctuary, a national charity that supports people who are escaping persecution, torture or warfare in their own countries, in developing the piece.
Trustee Dr Jeff Morgan said: “We are very happy to support Theatre in the Quarter in their plans to deliver this theatrical project bringing the truly lived experience of young sanctuary seekers to schoolchildren.”
He added, “Young people from City of Sanctuary groups in the North West of England have had the chance to integrate into the creative development of this project and its subsequent workshops. This is therefore an innovative concept that will inform and inspire not only settled school students and their families and neighbours but also just as importantly, young sanctuary seekers who are finding their feet in a strange new culture.”
Theatre in the Quarter producer Jo McLeish, who has worked alongside City of Sanctuary and award-winning film company Tuesday Films, in capturing the real life stories for the production, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the Arts Council has invested in this project. Theatre in the Quarter has produced some ground-breaking work which impacts on communities in such a powerful way, and this production feels like the next step up for the company.”
She added, “The migration of thousands of humans from war-torn countries is an incredibly fast growing issue, and people’s attitudes seem to be increasingly polarised. Even choosing where to set the play has been in response to these attitudes and values. The Lost Boy, and the wrap around activities which accompany it, serve to reflect and most importantly, challenge people’s perceptions.”
More information can be found by visiting Theatre in the Quarter’s Facebook page or by visiting www.theatreinthequarter.co.uk.