11 Questions with the cast of The Jungle | Moein Ghobsheh

Moein Ghobsheh, also known as Milan among his friends, hails from Iran, and spent time living in the Calais “Jungle” before successfully making the boarder crossing to the UK. He plays the role of Omid in The Jungle and these are his 11 Questions…

1. Can you describe your character in The Jungle in three words?

Crazy, fighter, musical.

2.  What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this particular Young Vic production?

I really like it, because this is my story.

3. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?

I hope they will feel safe.

4. Did you do anything unusual to prepare for this role?

Well, I lived in the Calais “Jungle”.

5. What was it like working with Good Chance Theatre?

It’s been a good time working with Good Chance, both here and in the Calais “Jungle”.

6. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

I listen to music and tune my guitar.

Moein Ghobsheh2

Back row: Mohammad Amiri, Mohamed Sarrar, Elham Ehsas, Moein Ghobsheh. Front Row: John Pfumojena. (Source: @FalsettoJohn ) 

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Anything Amy* says!

*Amy works for Good Chance and met Moein in Calais

8. Who is your ultimate hero and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

My Dad.

9. What is your favourite play (that you’ve seen / read / worked on)?

This is actually my first real experience of theatre, although I suppose I did see some in Calais.

10. What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud.

Years ago, back home in Iran – my friends would make me really laugh out loud.

11. Confession time. This is a safe space: tell us something that you’ve never told anyone before.

I’m in love!

The Jungle runs until 9 Jan. Find out more about the production here. Tickets are sold out but you are welcome to queue for returns before each performance. 

Top image: Mohamed Sarrar, Ben Turner, Moein Ghobsheh, Elham Ehsas. Photo by David Sandison. 

11 Questions with the cast of The Jungle | Mohamed Sarrar

We sat down with Mohamed Sarrar who plays Omar in  The Jungle here at the Young Vic. Mohamed, who is originally from Sudan, came through the Calais “Jungle” before successfully making the crossing to the UK. A drummer and singer, he took part in Good Chance Theatre’s programme while there and since coming to the UK has performed in The Welcoming Party at Manchester International Festival and Borderline at the Brighton fringe.

1. Can you describe your character in The Jungle in three words?

Musical, energetic, soulful.

2.  What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this particular Young Vic production?

Being on the Young Vic stage and being able to tell people about the refugee crisis.

3. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?

Hopefully audiences will feel closer to the crisis – and be inspired to help in their own small way.

4. Did you do anything unusual to prepare for this role?

I spent time in the Jungle camp so I didn’t need to prepare as I’d already lived there!

5. What was it like working with Good Chance Theatre?

I have always loved working with Good Chance Theatre, since the first time I found them. They treat refugees as humans. It’s an honour for me to work with them.

6. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

Having a chat with the other performers and doing some humming as a vocal warm up.

Ammar Haj Ahmad (Safi) and Nahel Tzegai (Helene) in The Jungle at the Young Vic © Leon Puplett.jpg

Ammar Haj Ahmad (Safi) and Nahel Tzegai (Helene) in The Jungle at the Young Vic © Leon Puplett.

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Not to lose touch with anyone who was kind to you.

8. Who is your ultimate hero and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

I don’t have a specific one!

9. What is your favourite play (that you’ve seen / read / worked on)?

It’s actually a play I saw at the Young Vic – A Man of Good Hope.

10. What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud.

This really funny Arabic joke about a pen – I can’t tell you it.

11. Confession time. This is a safe space: tell us something that you’ve never told anyone before.

Back home in Sudan, I fell in love with my Chemistry teacher, so I deliberately left the answers blank on my exam so my family would get me tutoring with her. If my dad found out he’d be very angry!

The Jungle runs until 9 Jan. Find out more about the production here. Tickets are sold out but you are welcome to queue for returns on the day. 

11 Questions with the cast of The Jungle | Elham Ehsas

We sat down with Elham Ehsas who plays Muzamil (Maz) in critically acclaimed The Jungle here at the Young Vic. Elham, who is originally from Afghanistan, moved to the UK aged 10 with his family and is one of a truly global cast of actors, including many from refugee backgrounds, some of whom came through the Calais “Jungle” itself.

1. Can you describe your character in The Jungle in three words?

Brave, short-tempered, funny.

2. What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this particular Young Vic production?

The range of actors involved and their backgrounds.

3. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?

I think it will make audiences more aware of what’s happening in their own back gardens.

4. Did you do anything unusual to prepare for this role?

I went to the Calais “Jungle” a few times.

5. What was it like working with Good Chance Theatre?

Really good!

6. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

Practicing the harmonica.

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“When going through hell, keep going.”

8. Who is your ultimate hero and what would you say to them if you ever met them? 

Elon Musk. I’d say – “How’s it going?”

9. What’s your favourite play that you’ve ever seen/read/worked on?

Skellig! I watched it on a school trip when I was really young and had just moved to England and could barely speak English – it was amazing.

10. What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

Milan (Moein Ghobsheh who plays Omid) has a line in the play where he says “Iran will resist too!” and the way he says it always makes me laugh so much.

11. Confession time. This is a safe space: tell us something you’ve never told anyone before. 

In Afghanistan, when I was small, I loved the smell of soil when it gets wet (I think there’s a name for this…*), and I always wanted to taste it. So I’d lick the walls (which are made out of mud) to try and get that taste!

The Jungle runs until 9 Jan. Find out more about the production here. Tickets are sold out but you are welcome to queue for returns on the day. 

* Editor’s note: Petrichor (/ˈpɛtrɪkɔːr/) is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word is constructed from Greek πέτρα petra, meaning “stone”, and ἰχώρ īchōr, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology.

★★★★★ “A haunting, humane masterpiece. Hearts ache. Anger boils. Tears flow.” | The Jungle reviews

We are overwhelmed with the outstanding reviews received so far for Joe Murphy & Joe Robertson’s The Jungle, set in part of the Calais refugee camp, directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin.

★★★★★
“Exuberant, full of music and movement. This is a story we need to hear. It feels of national significance.”
Time Out | Read the full review

★★★★★
“This devastating, uplifting show celebrates the human capacity to build something out of nothing, to work together and try to make a difference.”
The Guardian | Read the full review

★★★★★
“The show breathes with the generosity of spirit that it champions. Wonderfully humane and illuminating.”
The Independent | Read the full review

★★★★★
“Important, deeply moving theatre that challenges us to face this terrible, intractable crisis.”
Financial Times | Read the full review

★★★★
“You’re left awed and appalled. It’s warts and all – and that’s the beauty of it.”
The Telegraph | Read the full review

★★★★
“Urgency, vividness and wit. The play’s sense of the knottiness of world politics makes this a remarkable evening.”
The Times | Read the full review

★★★★★ “Brimful of hope, humour and humanity.”
Metro | Read the full review

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Mohammad Amiri (Norullah) in The Jungle at the Young Vic © David Sandison

★★★★★
“A haunting, humane masterpiece. Hearts ache. Anger boils. Tears flow.”
The Stage | Read the full review

★★★★★
“Searing, emotional and profound. It makes you think and feel in a way that theatre very rarely does”
Whatsonstage | Read the full review

★★★★★
“An absolutely vital attempt to bring the tragedy of unwanted and abandoned refugees to the attention of the world.”
The Upcoming | Read the full review

★★★★
“A visual masterpiece. It’s unlike anything you have ever seen.”
Broadway World | Read the full review

The Jungle runs at the Young Vic until 9 January. Tickets are available to book from £10; find out more and book now.

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Ammar Haj Ahmad (Safi) in The Jungle at the Young Vic © David Sandison

 

HumanMe – a response to the refugee crisis

Once a year our Young Associates have the opportunity to create a performance in response to a topic they want to explore. This year they chose to create something that represented the human side of the refugee crisis, going against what the stereotypical negative story of groups of migrants the media tends to portray. They created a multi-discipline performance entitled, HumanMe.

YV HumanMe rehearsal

The production featured three different elements; a short video documentary, a ‘Syrian lounge’ and a performance by a cast of 9 young people from our neighbourhood, directed by Diyan Zora and Fiona Sowole.

YV HumanMe rehearsal

The cast of 9 devised short scenes exploring new and different relationships forged between strangers as a result of the crisis. Many of the stories which featured were influenced from one of the participant’s own experiences living in Calais. The group focused on sharing stories from individual refugee’s perspectives in an attempt to humanise the crisis and the positive relationships that can form in difficult circumstances.

YV HumanMe rehearsal

The video documentary the Associates created featured two interviews with a 16 year old Syrian refugee who discussed his journey and his family who are now spread across Europe and Andrew Connolly, a journalist who helped contextualise the crisis and the issues and hardships refugees are facing day to day.

YA HumanMe - Syrian Lounge

The ground floor of the community art space Platform in Southwark was transformed into a Syrian styled lounge. The audience were invited to enjoy the space after the performance and to encourage them to talk about what they had watched over some Syrian food and music.

When asked why the refugee crisis was chosen one of the Young Associates, Fiona explained, ‘We wanted to do something that we cared about and something that was important to us. When we heard about the Good Chance Theatre closing down we knew that we wanted to express how important this crisis was to us. We care about what is going on and wanted that to show in our work.’

HumanMe was created by our four current Young Associates. Our associates are young people from Southwark who are learning the ropes for a year in different Young Vic departments, arming them with transferable skills for future employment. Our Young Associates are:

Kate Clement Production
Teniola Osholoye Finance and Fundraising
Fiona Sowole Taking Part and Directors Program
Helen Spincemaille Press & Marketing

Calais: A write up from the Jungle | Part 4

Lily Einhorn is the Two Boroughs Project Manager at the Young Vic, working with local residents and community groups in the neighbourhood. She is also a freelance writer and community theatre practitioner. In a series of posts Lily shares her experience of a recent visit to the Good Chance Theatre, a newly constructed creative space in the refugee camp in Calais.

There are hundreds of stories. All different. These people are labourers, students, artists, shop keepers, restauranteurs, engineers, public administrators, children.

Those children will never make it over the fence, though. They may have walked for eight months to get here but here the journey ends. Except the Jungle isn’t an end for anyone. It’s stasis. A place where life crawls along, not forward, not back, just along. That’s why the Good Chance Theatre is not a luxury, not a panacea, it’s a lifeline. Its breath for those gasping for air. There is, in the act of imagination, of illusion, inherent hope. In the small moments between reality and fiction there is a space to exist in that transcends the mud, the tents, the asbestos, the unwashed hair and damp clothes. That space is the theatre tent. And without it these people’s lives would be moments bleaker.

I don’t doubt that there are tears in the jungle. There must be depression. Despair. The children’s mothers can’t keep them washed, fed, warm. Men can’t reach their families. Loved ones are held apart by invisible immigration laws so strong you can feel them. It is unimaginable to me. Me with a red passport which means I can keep my child close, keep her washed, fed, warm. That means I don’t have any other recourse but to imagine a horror that might compel me to put her on a boat, leave her behind, or send her ahead. These refugees don’t have to imagine that reality. They’re living it. There must be tears in the jungle, but I didn’t see many of them. People are too busy surviving to cry.

*            *            *

As we drove out, groups of men in black clothes trudge towards the fence, towards an uncertain future. The fog hangs thick in the air but it’s hard not to look at their bent backs and feel hopeless. A high barbed fence. A drop. A run through a dark tunnel or a ride in a suffocating lorry. A field in Kent. Many of these men have family in the other side. A daughter in Wembley. Parents in Manchester. A brother in Bradford.  It’s impossible to say whether they’ll ever achieve the reunion that keeps them going, one foot in front of the other, into the night.

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Calais: A write up from the Jungle | Part 3

Lily Einhorn is the Two Boroughs Project Manager at the Young Vic, working with local residents and community groups in the neighbourhood. She is also a freelance writer and community theatre practitioner. In a series of posts Lily shares her experience of a recent visit to the Good Chance Theatre, a newly constructed creative space in the refugee camp in Calais.

The preservation of hearts is really how, and why, the Good Chance Theatre exists. Two young playwrights, Joes Murphy and Robertson went to visit the camp and decided it needed an arts space. So they set one up. A large, white dome stands glinting in the sun in the middle of Afghanistan. Originally pitched in Sudan to compensate for that area’s lack of infrastructure, it was moved after the French authorities decided to build there – to date nothing has been started. So they moved it. Took it down, set it up again, with around 50 volunteers – scrambling and banging and heaving it into existence. It is a space for expression. For joy. For hope. To talk. To sing. It is a space to feel a little bit normal in. To re-imagine yourself not as a refugee but as someone who can dance or draw or simply listen.

It has been up and running a relatively short time in its new home when my colleagues and myself visited. Men drift in and out, sometimes curious, sometimes bored. If there’s something going in they might join in. Both Joes want to establish a routine – they have an event every night at 7pm. A film night, a music night, spoken word nights. We were there for all three. We learned Afghan dancing to the strains of Sudanese music played on iPhones, guitars, and sung – loudly. We listened to mournful laments, so beautiful they silenced the din. We stood back as men danced with abandon in their coats as rain splattered against the white sheeting. For the spoken word night we set up the stage, lit hundreds of tea lights and settled down in the glimmer. Joe and Joe performed poems and speeches to start the men off, Gbolahan performed one of his poems, then the refugees – the participants – took to the stage. Stories were told in Arabic, Farsi and Pashtun. Some were translated. Some were not. A young man sang a love song to his feet. At some point we had to call it a night but it could have gone on into the small hours, story giving rise to story to song. In the day the tent is a workshop space. Anything can happen. We ran sessions on games that turned Into drawing. We played Grandmother’s Footsteps. We taught children the Hokey Cokey and Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. They learned fast. Whenever we did drawing, everyone, adults and child, drew flags or homes. The places they had left behind. We decorated the tent walls with colourful images. And I wondered how many British children could draw the British flag. Or would ever feel the need to.

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