Leeds Playhouse is supporting REFUGEE WEEK (14–20 June) with a host of fun, inspirational and informative activities exploring the timely theme chosen for 2021, We Cannot Walk Alone.
The week-long programme builds on the work carried out year-round by the Playhouse as a Theatre of Sanctuary committed to being a place of safety, hospitality and support for refugees and people seeking asylum. Leeds Playhouse became the UK’s first Theatre of Sanctuary in 2014 and continues to work closely with people building a new life for themselves and their families in the Leeds City Region.
You can find out more about the Playhouse’s ongoing Theatre of Sanctuary groups, activities, events and projects here.
Ruth Hannant, Head of Creative Engagement at Leeds Playhouse, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer continued ways to connect with people through our Theatre of Sanctuary programme during Refugee Week despite the ongoing difficulties presented by the pandemic. Our regular programme of work has been adapted to ensure we have been able to remain in contact with and offer support to our regular participants. While we have been hugely impressed by people’s resilience and adaptability, we can’t wait to welcome people back into our building on a regular basis.”
Members of Leeds Playhouse’s Asmarina Choir and Hearts youth group created two short films on the theme of We Walk With You as part of an Arts Together Leeds project for Refugee Week. You can watch them on YouTube here.
Other Refugee Week activities at the Playhouse include:
Monday 14 June: Conversation Café
Refugees and people seeking asylum are invited to the Playhouse Bar & Kitchen to celebrate this year’s theme – We Cannot Walk Alone – with conversation and an art activity.
Tuesday 15 June: Staff awareness raising session
All Leeds Playhouse staff are invited to an awareness-raising session led by the Refugee Council and volunteers with lived experience to gain a greater understanding a empathy for refugees and people seeking asylum.
Tuesday 15 – Saturday 19 June: An Evening With An Immigrant
Award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams, who left Nigeria for England as a 12-year-old, shares stories, poems and anecdotes, shedding light on his own experiences while exploring the wider subject of migration and human movement across borders. This is a streamed performance filmed at The Bridge Theatre in November 2020 and presented on Fuel Digital.
Wednesday 16 June & Friday 18 June: Fairy Poppins and the Naughty Winter Ghost Community Tour
Open Source Arts in Kirkstall and Christ Church in Armley host performances of Fairy Poppins and the Naughty Winter Ghost – a new family show commissioned by Leeds Playhouse to celebrate its 50th anniversary – for specially invited audiences of sanctuary seekers.
Wednesday 16 June: Joke Translation Service
Leeds Playhouse’s Hearts group – a project run in partnership with the Children’s Society for 14–25 year old young people seeking asylum and refugees – will be working with performance maker and writer Rachel Mars to explore what makes us laugh and how laughter can help to foster mutual understanding.
Shreena Gobey, Youth Work Manager at Leeds Playhouse, said: “This Refugee Week, our Hearts Group will be celebrating with laughter by taking part in Joke Translation Service in our safe welcoming space that the young people have created online for friendship, creativity and support.”
Session leader Rachel Mars added: “I am so excited to be continuing my work with Leeds Playhouse on Joke Translation Service this Refugee Week, holding workshops to think about what different things make us laugh, and what we can learn from one-another.”
The theme of this year’s Refugee Week comes from Martin Luther King’s historic ‘I have a dream’ speech, when he turns his attention to the White people who, realising their destiny and that of their Black fellow citizens were intertwined, joined the movement for equal rights.
“They have come to realise that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom,” he said. “We cannot walk alone.”