Iranian and Afghan Refugees’ pathways to belonging in Melbourne
A participatory theatre project led by Mammad Aidani, hosted by the Institute of Postcolonial Studies
This project mobilises participatory theatre techniques to deepen self- and public understandings of asylum seekers and refugees’ experiences of settlement in Melbourne.
Theatre director and playwright Mammad Aidani will work with Iranian and Afghan men from diverse backgrounds to explore their lived experiences of identity, dislocation and emplacement. It will shed light on the inter-relationships between cultural stigmatization, dislocation, and social action at a time of deepening anxiety, isolation and stress.
The project has gained new significance and urgency in the wake of the compounded trauma some of these men have been experiencing during COVID-19 social isolation.
Participatory theatre techniques have been shown to be particularly generative for work with dislocated, marginalised and vulnerable people. The method’s main strengths are that it is embodied, interpretive, dialogical and descriptive.
Participatory theatre does not produce linear biographies (as is often demanded by refugee assessment boards and some humanities and social sciences disciplines as well as conventional theatre production), but generative themes in the lives of participants. Vitally, theatrical methods are geared towards helping participants work cooperatively, develop alternative forms of social action, and envisage new possible futures.
Eight men will participate in ten two-hourly workshops run over three months at IPCS. The practice will commence with individual interviews. Participants will write vignettes drawn from experience and perform aspects of their own navigation of conflict, separation, isolation, fear, and hope. Through the workshops they will become co-creators and performers of stories of their own experiences.
Workshopped writings will be developed and rehearsed into a performance to be publicly staged. It is anticipated that there will be five performances and related panel discussions in theatres across Melbourne and in a regional community.
IPCS has set an ambitious target to raise $20,000 by end of June. All donations to IPCS are tax deductible.
Funds raised will cover visiting fellow stipend, payments to contributors, translations, and travel and meal costs for participants.
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