Drama within tent to highlight real stories of migrant children

We Come from Far Far Away is being staged as part of this year's Baboró Arts Festival.
We Come from Far Far Away is being staged as part of this year's Baboró Arts Festival.

The venue for We Come from Far Far Away at this year’s Baboró Arts Festival for Children is the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama at NUIG.

But that’s only the beginning. Once audiences enter the Centre, they’ll be ushered into traditional Mongolian yurt. Inside that is another tent.

It’s home to a boy, Abdullah, from Syria. He wants to tell people about his life and his friends. About boats, trains mobile phones, McDonald’s and death. He also has a secret about promises made and promises broken.

We Come from Far Far Away is a joint UK-Norwegian production from New International Encounter (NIE) and uses story-telling, comedy, shadow-puppetry and live music to help Abdullah tell his story, explains Iva Moberg who plays Abdullah.

This drama, for ages 10+ grew out of workshops which NIE gave at a reception centre for young refugees aged 13-18, in an Oslo suburb.

NIE, an international company of which Czech-born Iva is co-Artistic Director, have a history of creating vibrant theatre that address social and political issues. As anyone who saw their 2008 dramas in Galway will know, they do this through light, sound, animation, clowning, puppetry and music.

NIE initially got involved with Oslo’s Hvalstad Transittmottak Centre because they wanted to help young migrants, many of whom had travelled thousands of miles on their own from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Syria.

The performers heard stories that were shocking, upsetting – and true.

“The knowledge that you cannot solve their situation is hard,” says Iva of the experience. “But it’s harder to sit at home and not do anything. We do what we can do within our means.”

NIE collected stories from these youngsters, which inspired this show, says Iva, adding that it was a collaborative process. “We asked them what the group should say”.

The young people’s message was simple.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.