Go Between | Taking Part

Go Between was a Taking Part community show inspired by Isango Ensemble’s A Man of Good Hope. The beautiful collaboration between director Anna Girvan, writer Archie Maddocks and participants who are currently homeless or have experienced homelessness in the past explored what home means to all of us.

The show was inspired by the 30 members of the “creative, passionate, witty and optimistic” company and their own experiences, drawn together through workshops and sessions over 4 months, since September 2016.

Go Between also featured a photography exhibition by Jordan Lee, a photographer who spent 3 months with the company documenting the process from devising and rehearsals to the full production. The stunning exhibition was open to all at Platform Southwark and was visited by audiences and participants alike.

Anna said, “We hope that this production will give an insight to how we are all just people, people who want to love, live, experience life, shout, stomp, sit in silence, be challenged and listened to, respected and deserve that basic human right; a home.”

Intro to Theatre | Young Vic Taking Part

Our Taking Part team welcomed over 200 new young people over October half-term with a series of Intro to Theatre workshops led by some great friends of the Young Vic.

Talks and workshops with Simon Stephens, Kayode Ewumi and Tyrell Williams, Thalissa Teixeira, Ashley Walters, Jemima Robinson, Toby Clarke, Shanika Warren-Markland, Arnold Oceng and Gbolahan Obisesan, gave a mix of 14-25 year olds a first look at careers in playwriting, acting, design, helped with audition techniques and held talks.

We also held a panel discussion with the heads of acting from RADA, LAMDA, Mountview, LIPA, East 15, Rose Bruford, Central, Drama Centre and the RCS on the process and future of applying to drama schools attended by 60 young people from Lambeth and Southwark.

To find out more about the Young Vic’s opportunities for young people head to youngvic.org and follow Taking Part on twitter.

‘People need to know the stories of those who to everyone here are invisible’

Michael, YV TP LGBT Refugee Workshop Portrait

Michael, a participant in the Now We Are Here workshops.

I like the theatre. It’s something I know communicates something to everyone. I got involved in the Young Vic through another group. I went to a session, and they asked lots of questions. They asked me to write a letter as if I was writing to my best friend about my life. I haven’t seen my best friend in such a long time, the experience of writing that moved me. Then they asked me who my favourite person was. I said my grandmother. They asked me how I would describe her in one word, I said “flower”. They asked me how she would describe me in one word, I said “clown”. And then they asked me who she is to me, I said “shield”.

Then we started talking about our stories. The some people who gave their stories wanted to talk about their home country. Like Jamaica. Everyone here thinks Jamaica is a happy place, lots of reggae, lots of sunshine. They don’t know the reality of what it’s like to live there if you aren’t like everyone else. One person wanted to talk about his cancer. His cancer, and the vulnerability it gave him made him safer in the eyes of the social services. The cancer that was harming him was his protection, his proof that he was a victim and his guarantee that he could stay. He doesn’t want his cancer to go, because that means that he himself might have to go too.

But I wanted to talk about what life is like here. I don’t want to tell the story of how I got here. People always ask me about my journey but they don’t realise that my journey is still going on living here. People need to know the stories of those who to everyone here are invisible. What I want to do is to communicate that pain is not limited to being a refugee or an asylum seeker. Pain is universal, pain doesn’t discriminate. Pain is something that we all feel. Sometimes it’s like people don’t understand the every-day reality of what it’s like feeling lost.

NWAH_Cast

The cast of Now We Are Here. Photo by Helen Murray.

They treated us so well at the Young Vic. They gave us a lot of purpose, food to eat and friendship. I am still in touch with the people who we did the production with. I made sure that the money that was raised went to the charities that have helped us, like Room to Heal. An outcome that I am very proud of is the creation of the Cotton Tree Trust. An audience member with an amount of money they had saved for thirty years was so moved by the play that he has started to think of creating a trust to practically help refugees and asylum seekers like me. Theatre can keep creating this compassion, and I am grateful to have been apart of this project.

This blog post was originally featured by Room To Heal, a charity which supports refugees and Asylum Seekers in the UK. Their blog can be found here. This post was written by Michael, a participant in the workshops that led to the production of Now We Are Here which ran at the Young Vic in July 2016.

Now We Are Here – Reviews

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

Golda Rosheuvel in Now We Are Here | Photo by Helen Murray

We’re sad about the fact it’s over, but definitely not sad about the reception it received. The reviews are in for our new Taking Part play Now We Are Here – a brave collaboration of true stories written by four refugees and the award-winning poet and spoken word artist Deanna Rodger.  Take a look below to see what critics made of the show.

★★★★
“This is seductive theatre, persuasive protest – the stories will haunt you”
The Times – read the full review here.

★★★★
“Simple but starkly affecting – anyone still in any doubt about theatre’s ability to tackle the pressing stories of the day should acquaint themselves sharpish with the Young Vic’s wholly admirable Horizons season”
The Evening Standard – read the full review here.

NWAH_Cast

The Cast of Now We Are Here | Photo by Helen Murray

★★★★
“Ian Rickson directs this sensitive, compelling production which strips away everything but the bare minimum needed for these voices to be heard”
The Independent – read the full review here.

★★★★
“It is absolutely paramount that more of these stories are told so that we are not desensitised by dehumanising statistics and relentless news reports. […] These beautifully told stories with humour and wit are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Theatre News – read the full review here.

“One takes away from “Now We Are Here” great pride in the courage of the individuals presented alongside an abiding wish that an often unforgiving world can — or will — just let them be.”
The New York Times – read the review here.

Now We Are Here | Desmond

Now We Are Here, part or our Horizons season of work, features four true refugees stories which are drawn together into a heartbreaking tale of the pursuit of freedom. Taking Part at the Young Vic presents this extraordinarily beautiful new play.
We spoke to the people who were originally involved in our first workshops about where they are from and why they decided to get involved in this important project.

Now We Are here - Desmond

Q. How did you find sharing your story through a performance?
A. There’s so much today but then you just have to take things in small portions. I guess it had its affect. I guess it leaves people more aware – wanting more. With a smile on their face; interesting, sad…all the emotions. It hit the mark.

Q. How long have you been living in the UK?
A. This year makes it 21 years.

Q. And how are you finding it?
A. For me it’s a sort of a culture I’ve always had in me in the sense that – well y’know the Caribbean can be busy. The culture can be busy, up and down. Overexcited sometimes but for me, I’m calmer which allows me to relax, to think, to feel, to share because it makes no sense being a busy-bee going nowhere without any emotion, without any caring, without any feeling.

Q. How have you found taking part in a workshop like this? Have there been any particular challenges?
A. I look on it this way, and for me it’s a simple way. Based on my experience, based on what I’ve been through – it’s not only for me. It’s for people who are probably not as strong, who probably can’t deal with…because it’s a lot of things out there that if they know the half of it, you realise how strong and resilient people can be because some people…they keep it in but they’re constantly fighting and sometimes they just need a simple kind word or somebody else’s experience to lift their spirit and for them to realise that ‘I’m not alone’. Life is never normally for you alone. Life is for everybody to learn from it even from one single sentence.

Now We Are Here will run 20-30 July in The Clare at the Young Vic. Tickets are free and all donations will go to Micro Rainbow International and Room to Heal.

Now We are Here | Mir

Now We Are Here, part or our Horizons season of work, features four true refugees stories which are drawn together into a heartbreaking tale of the pursuit of freedom. Taking Part at the Young Vic presents this extraordinarily beautiful new play.
We spoke to the people who were originally involved in our first workshops about where they are from and why they decided to get involved in this important project.

Portrait of NWAH participant, Mir

Mir at the Young Vic. Photo by Leon Puplett.

Q. How have you found doing the workshop?
A. Imogen has been wonderful. I’ve worked with the Young Vic 2/3 times in the past. I never knew Ian in the beginning and then when I researched his work I was mesmerised. I was like ‘oh my god’. As an actor, as a struggling actor, for me it was like massive big break and again, working with the Young Vic as well… Imogen has been very supportive from the beginning and Ian brilliant. I mean it was a wonderful experience.

Q. And in terms of your challenging story, what have you taken away from this and sharing your story in such a public way?
A. I never thought about telling my story in this way. Nobody wants to have a sorry feeling y’know. It’s just I wanted to get it out of my system, it’s therapeutic. It was very much helpful just to take all of that negativity out of me. I like dark stuff normally, even in my performances as well so for me this was something dark that I could show to the audience…the brutal reality of life. So it kind of makes me feel lighter now.

Q. You’re based in London now. How are you finding it?
A. Um, it’s nice. It’s a lonely city I must say. It’s the most loneliest city but people are friendly and I’m doing a lot of stuff which I always wanted to do. So this country has given me all those opportunities which I wanted to do…what I wanted to become. So I find it like, wow. I’m doing it, this is what I wanted to do.

Q. Anything to add about your experience and the importance of things like this?
A. Meeting different people from different cultures. When you can associate with them… As Golda said, ‘broken hearts are universal and when all the broken hearts come together, it fixes them back in way’.

Now We Are Here will run 20-30 July in The Clare at the Young Vic. Tickets are free and all donations will go to Micro Rainbow International and Room to Heal.
You can read our other interviews with our Now We Are Here collaborators in these blog posts.

Now We Are Here | Tammy

Now We Are Here, part or our Horizons season of work, features four true refugees stories which are drawn together into a heartbreaking tale of the pursuit of freedom. Taking Part at the Young Vic presents this extraordinarily beautiful new play.
We spoke to the people who were originally involved in our first workshops about where they are from and why they decided to get involved in this important project.

Now We Are Here Portrait - Tamara

Tammy at the Young Vic. Photo by Leon Puplett.

Q. How have you found working on a project like this?
A. Ian [Rickson] and Imogen [Brodie, Director of Taking Part at the Young Vic], especially Imogen…they make it so welcoming and there was no pressure. For example…this whole thing is about truth and wanting to be precise…they made sure I was comfortable because there are more vicious things that I’ve been through but I wasn’t ready to put it out there and they made it comfortable [easy] for me to realise that I can share just what I want…what I’m ready to. So it was very comfortable and very cool.

Q. You’re based in London now. How are you finding it?
A. I’ve been living here since 1999, so quite a long time. Liberating is the word. Liberating because…put it this way, for a long time I thought that something was wrong with me but then when I came here and found out that actually this was normal…that this was natural and that the church was being hypocritical and then I had to re-read the bible from start to finish a few times to realise that God made me in his own image so I am actually normal. The fact that I’m a lesbian doesn’t take away anything. I am his child. My great-grandmother was a Christian and I do believe in God so that was something that really brought me to a very comfortable place, comfortable in myself and accepting myself and loving myself because all the bad things that happened to me back then I just thought I deserved it because I wasn’t normal.

Q. You mentioned religion. How do you feel about religion now / are you practicing it?
A. I wouldn’t say I practice per se. I think religion should be a personal thing between a person and whoever they believed in. I think it’s your choice. I just got to church when I want, when I feel I need to otherwise I do it personally in my room or on the bus if I want to sit there and close my eyes and talk to him. So I don’t think that it’s this huge big thing that I need to throw into somebody’s face. I think that it’s something you have personally with you and your god or whoever you serve.

Q. And have you been back to Jamaica since?
A. No – I haven’t because of this asylum thing. When I lost my passport – well, the Home Office lost it – my lawyer said ‘better to claim asylum in that case’, and you have to wait for a certain period of time before you’re able to travel. So as soon as it’s safe for me to go back the first thing I want to do is to go to my great-grandmother’s grave because I haven’t been there. […]

Q. How was it telling your story in such and open and honest way?
A. The first time Golda [the actor sharing Tammy’s story]…when I first readied myself it was a little bit too much in the sense that I was breaking down because it’s almost like you’re there again. It just your life…you’re re-living your life so that’s why Ian got Golda to come in and do it. When she first did it in rehearsal, every time she does it actually I commented that it’s almost like I could smell that smell again of the boy burning. Ian pointed out to me that your smell and your brain are somehow connected to you memory… Just hearing her do it, y’know, it’s just as touching as if I was doing it y’know. I’m sitting there…it’s almost watching my life inside a TV or something like that.

Q. Do you think Golda, the actor sharing your story, did the piece justice?
A. I think she did more than justice. She did an incredible job. I just hope that it wasn’t too emotionally draining on in the end because it is like going through all these emotions, personal emotions. She did really well.

Now We Are Here will run 20-30 July in The Clare at the Young Vic. Tickets are free and all donations will go to Micro Rainbow International and Room to Heal.