Four very special guests were welcomed to a performance of Theatre in the Quarter’s current production of The Lost Boy by Stephanie Dale.
Working in collaboration with a frontline charity has been vital in bringing this project to fruition at St Mary’s Creative Space in Chester. Theatre in the Quarter has partnered with City of Sanctuary, a national charity that supports people who are escaping persecution, torture or warfare in their own countries.
Theatre in the Quarter has worked alongside two young asylum seekers, Nadine and Abrar, who are supported by City of Sanctuary, hearing their first-hand accounts of fleeing their own countries and how they have coped with their new lives in the UK. Excerpts from their personal accounts are used in the stage show.
Senior trustee for the organisation 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.”
Nadine and Abrar attended with Abrar’s brother Umair) and Dr Jeff Morgan.
Jo McLeish, who produced The Lost Boy, said: “It was extremely nerve-wracking sitting next to Nadine and Abrar throughout the show. We had no idea how they were going to react to seeing their stories on stage.
“I kept glancing sideways at them, but they were both transfixed by watching the actors, and at times were smiling at some of the lines about refugees in the play. So much of what Steph has written resonated with them.”
Feedback from both Nadine and Abrar has confirmed how vital it has been to tell this story and to listen to the accounts of young people who are displaced across the UK.
Abrar said: “A huge congratulations to the whole team of The Lost Boy. It was an amazing opportunity to be working with yourselves and an honour to be there watching this great play.”
Nadine said: “There’s a line in the play that really made me smile. When Karem, the Lost Boy, is asked if they have pizza in Syria. That’s happened to me so many times, people think you come from a different planet, not a different country.”
After the performance the City of Sanctuary guests were invited to meet the cast and creatives behind the project.
Umair, Abrar’s brother, who was part of the very first discussions for The Lost Boy, said: “This is a really important piece of theatre, everyone needs to come and see it. I was amazed and I am so proud of my brother and the part he played.”
Matt Baker, artistic director for Theatre in the Quarter, said: “Audience feedback so far has further cemented the need for this type of work in Chester. Audience members have left in tears, some have said it’s the most important piece of theatre they have ever seen, whilst others have commented that we need to tour The Lost Boy around the UK.
“For us, this compounds what we have always hoped this piece of theatre would achieve - to make a difference and to make people think. We have also had hundreds of school children in to watch, they are totally transfixed from beginning to end, which is wonderful to witness.”
The play runs until May 7 at St Mary’s Creative Space, Chester. Tickets are available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/creativemarys or by calling 07854 550549.