Refugee week – Little Pigs have Big Ears – Kitchen Conversations

Neighbourhood Theatre started in June 2016. Eighty neighbours officially became members of the new Young Vic company of local people. This company is at the heart of our work. They are ambassadors, creators, friends and supporters. Jennifer from our Neighbourhood Theatre company has written a guest-blog for Refugee Week about the Kitchen Conversations project she’s taken part in…

Golda Rosheuvel in Now We Are Here at the Young Vic. Photo by HelenMurray (2)..jpg

Golda Rosheuvel in Now We Are Here at the Young Vic. Photo by Helen Murray.

Kitchen Conversations is a remarkable experience. Simple and human.

“What is said in the kitchen stays in the kitchen”

On Sunday 9th October 2016, I walked into the inaugural Kitchen Conversations with one expectation: meet, greet and EAT.  Kitchen Conversations is a much needed initiative run by The Young Vic Theatre, that aim to bridge the cultural and generational gap between the local community and refugees who are new to the U.K

To get things started, we got interactive with a name game where we created an inner and outer circle in the space, and rotated in a clockwise and/or anti-clockwise fashion (depending on your position).  We introduced ourselves and revealed one thing about ourselves for one minute, move onto the next person, repeat the sequence and so on.

The ice broke as the room filled  with the musical tonality of human voices, and within that sound were a tiny group of people, basking in the welcome, who crisscrossed continents to seek refuge in the U.K, after fleeing some very grim and gloomy realities.

I had a brief chat with a person who found themselves in some serious dire straits, when they went without food and board, and subsequently found some type of relief by sleeping on public transport, while they waited for their application for asylum to be processed but, they still managed to do that human thing.  Smile.

Then there were other people that I spoke with that were just happy to be somewhere where they felt safe to be themselves, without judgement.

I think that we can all relate to that.

Like Water for Chocolate anyone?

The scene and stage set.  Candles lit. The space that was stark and bare when I first arrived,  began to morph into the warmth of burning embers.  The atmosphere created was friendly and inviting, and could rival a scene from the sub-header between Pedro and Tita sans the laid tables and the food.

Food.  It seemed that everywhere I looked there was food.  A smorgasbord of food for all palettes and preferences, most prepared and cooked by the members of the Neighbourhood Theatre Company and Two Boroughs Project.  There were flavoursome stews originating from West Africa, Mediterranean inspired salads, and Italian frittatas made by moi.

We were all encouraged to sit and talk and enjoy a meal and a drink,  with somebody who we have never met before.

Art is Cathartic

Oh yes it is, because I know.  Art soothes the mind, for like the wind, we can’t see it but most of the time it’s there, and so from time to time needs to be soothed.

A few of the refugees are trailblazers in their own right, and have participated in Taking Part Productions at The Young Vic such as, “Now We Are Here” which gave the refugees the fortuitous opportunity to garner the courage to share their stories, but at the same time alter a few perceptions, thereby illuminating the way for others to follow.

Jonathan Livingstone in Now We Are Here at the Young Vic. Photo by HelenMurray (2)..jpg

Jonathan Livingstone in Now We Are Here at the Young Vic. Photo by Helen Murray.

What do you mean we’ve run out of juice?

Kitchen Conversations is a remarkable experience.  Simple  and human.

In May 2017, I arrived to once again, to meet, greet and EAT.  We formed one large circle and whizzed around the room introducing our names, while ‘The Flight of The Bumblebee” played in the background as a musical accompaniment.  Well, we WERE at The Young Vic at the time, in a theatre space where imagination is freed, and so it sounded like…

Human pop-up library

‘Hi’ and ‘How are you doing?’ were said and merged cellular histories, and the ‘living manuscripts’ continue to thrive despite past circumstances, and the gap that threatens to divide us is closing, slowly.

The multiple universes masking as ideas inside each individual who were present, are gestating and hidden within their own genetic archive, and curated by the laughter and curiosity of children, ‘The little pigs with big ears’.

Refugee Week runs 19 – 25 June 2017. Find out more about the events going on in your neighbourhood. #OurSharedFuture 

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