To me this performance is an important piece of artwork that stands out in today's world for two reasons: it's recognition of culture and giving a voice to young people.
The theme of this piece was forced migration and on the night I found that although I recognised forced migration as a regular occurrence in society, due to conflict etc. I never truly understood how it can affect people and shape their lives. In order to understand this, I related to this piece through personal knowledge, as my grandmother was a similar age to Aziza when she came to England. The fact that this was written from real-life experiences also made it more engaging and once it started, it was hard to recognise that Aziza was just a character being played by Afza Awad rather than an actual individual. As a young actress, Afza Awad really stood out for me as an up and coming talent. When she sang songs from Somalia in her mother tongue, she was able to invoke so much emotion from the audience.
I would recommend this piece to an audience of 13 and above. In focusing on migration, it looks at a whole subset of themes that affect young people; such as prejudice, identity and self-esteem. After the play there was also a Question and Answer session which allowed members of the audience to engage with the theme of migration and immigration and express their opinions on it. I feel that this would be a particularly interesting play for young people to go and see because having a Question and Answer feature in the theatre created a neutral environment to think and express themselves.
As humans, we tend to be both curious and fearful, this in turn leads us to judge. If there is one thing I took away from this play it is to do my best not to judge others. The strong sense of negativity and tension this creates was portrayed so well between Aziza as an asylum seeker and the immigration officer she was with. I feel that this sense of judgement was reflected really effectively in the way that Rosemary's character - the immigration officer did not have a name. This shows how initially the views she has are not just individual, but a collective, offhand judgement.
The power of the spoken word and musical elements were evident through a lack of set, allowing the audience to focus and fully embrace the ideas and issues the piece was trying to highlight. The skill of both Rosemary Harris and Azfa Awad in their art made it an engaging and colourful performance.
This performance brought together a number of organisations that support young people in the arts. Here's how you can find out some more about them:
To find out more about the writer and performers, visit www.rosemaryharris.org
Photo Credits: Gary Weston