Back to Wembley this week, and the resumption of the same old routine. Intrigued to see if attendance would be any better, and though they drifted in rather, in fact we had everyone except Rabar (who is in any case rather nervous about performance.) And instead of him, we had Awen, the Afghan girl who had been too young to come on the trip last week. So, in a way, the full complement.
And so we set about working our way through the play, The Story of Destiny, a Syrian folk tale. It is essentially the same play as the one performed by the Syrian children in Lebanon (then called The Story of Luck and Fate.) I have adapted it somewhat, cutting down on the Narrator, and giving a little more emphasis to those aspects which reference the refugee experience more closely. It tells the story of Youssef, who leaves his home land – well, there you go for a start – to seek a better life.
It is a short play, lasting about fifteen minutes, so we were able to work our way through it all. And bits of it worked well – there is a scene in which Youssef hears four fortune-tellers, all at the same time, all trying to tell him what a wonderful future he will have, and this was effective. Such stylised scenes work well, but there are problems when it comes to simpler confrontations and meetings, when their limitations in expressing themselves clearly in English are exposed. On the other hand, I have done this enough times to realise that such things take time and practice, and that this was the first time for some of the scenes.
In order to break things up a little, we also took time with some improvisations in which people put on a mask… or rather form their faces into a fixed position as though they were wearing a mask. And then we developed this into short scenes in which someone buys a mask… but cannot remove it from their face. Quite a difficult and sophisticated idea, and one which they rose to wonderfully. Especially when language does not get in the way, their progress is obvious.
Pamela J Blair
Chris, I love what you’re doing with these people. I can imagine they all feel like they have to wear masks, to be accepted even a tiny bit in England.
But then, we’re all wearing masks!