New Play Created With Refugees, Migrants And Asylum Seekers To Premiere In Northern Stage 50th Anniversary Season Before Touring

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New Play Created With Refugees, Migrants And Asylum Seekers To Premiere In Northern Stage 50th Anniversary Season Before Touring

A powerful new play by Lindsay Rodden, HERE is about finding sanctuary in the unlikeliest of places and is part of Curious Monkey's long term work with refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.

HERE is the story of two teenage girls with a library card and the power they summon through friendship and books to make something extraordinary happen. Starring professional actors from refugee backgrounds, it is set against the backdrop of austerity in a struggling inner-city library, where characters from Albania, Angola and Kurdistan/Syria who have ended up living in Byker meet.

The play is part of Curious Monkey's Arriving project. Working with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from all over the world including Sudan, Syria, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Zimbabwe, Kosovo, Bangladesh, Congo and Nigeria for 18 months, writer Lindsay Rodden has worked closely with 80+ people who are now settling in the North East and Derby to create authentic characters. Lindsay said, "As a writer, I was determined not to take a story from anyone. Because stories are so powerful that the Home Office will demand yours from you, question it, doubt it, perhaps use it against you. But stories have been given, and invented, and shared, and that's how we made HERE. The play is only part of a huge project, and a growing community writing its own story, reclaiming and harnessing that power in the hope of happy endings. That's all any of us want, isn't it?"

Arieta Visoka plays Lulja. Arieta came to the UK aged two as a refugee from Kosovo. HERE is her professional debut after graduating from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. "The story is very important to me personally, and I feel blessed this will be my professional debut. I can't wait to see the characters interact on stage, and seeing the truth behind their own stories."

Joana Geronimo plays Pauline. Now living in Newcastle, Joana is from Angola, and her theatre credits include The Space Between Us (Open Clasp) and From the Sky to Your Hands (Live Theatre).

Karen Traynor plays Janet. Karen is an actor and theatre director based in the North East. Stage credits include Beauty Sleeps (Young Vic), Brand (RSC), The Lady in the Van (Hull Truck), Beauty & The Beast (Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh), Rendezvous (Live Theatre) and A Doll's House (Northern Stage). TV and Radio credits include Doctors (BBC), Tracey Beaker (BBC), Vera (ITV), Stannington (BBC Radio 4) and Suffragette Dramas (BBC Radio 3).

Murat Erkek plays Salim. Previous stage productions include The Lehman Trilogy at The National Theatre directed by Sam Mendes, The Virginity Project at Tristan Bates Theatre, directed by Chris Mellor. His film, radio and TV credits include Silent Witness (BBC), The Bastard of Istanbul (BBC Radio 4) and Ruptures which opened at the BFI London Film Festival 2019.

HERE is directed by Amy Golding and written by Lindsay Rodden. Amy founded Curious Monkey in 2011 and her directing credits include Leaving by Paddy Campbell, Beats North by Luke Barnes and Ishy Din, and Mamela by Gez Casey and Ziphozahke Hlobo. A writer and dramaturg, Lindsay was selected for the Royal Court and Northern Stage's NORTH writers' group and is a former writer-in-residence at Live Theatre in Newcastle. Her writing credits include The Story Giant (Liverpool Everyman, adapted from the book by Brian Patten) and Cartographers (Theatre by the Lake), and she is currently co-writing a musical with the support of National Theatre Studio.

Composer/Sound Designer Niroshini Thambar has worked with a range of companies including National Theatre Scotland, Dundee Rep and Selina Thompson. She has an interest in belonging, identity and migration and her work includes Home Is Not the Place written by Annie George for the Traverse, and The Arrival, a Solar Bear production inspired by the award-winning graphic novel by Shaun Tan, adapted for the stage by Jonathan Lloyd. Designer, Katie Scott was the inaugural recipient of the Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Prize for Theatre Design after graduating from LIPA in 2012. She was recently shortlisted for the Old Vic 12 and is an Associate Artist of Box Of Tricks Theatre Company. Credits include Narvik (Box of Tricks Theatre Company - National Studio TourWinner of Best New Play UK Theatre Awards) and Held (Liverpool Playhouse Studio - Winner of Everyman & Playhouse Design Prize and Daily Post Arts Award for Best Design). Lighting/AV Designer, Simon Cole works across multiple artforms including large outdoor events, immersive cinema, dance and theatre. Dramaturg Laura Lindow's experience as a theatre maker includes directing Open Clasp's multi award winning prison drama, Key Change and adapting The War of the Worlds for Northern Stage's sell out tour.

Director Amy Golding said, "HERE is a beautiful story full of hope and challenges about unlikely friendships and activism. Set against the backdrop of austerity in a struggling library, it is also about the power of books. It gives an insight into the city beneath the city that many people exist in; a place many of us are completely unaware of."

As part of the Arriving project, Curious Monkey also ran workshops for children and young people inspired by Beverley Naidoo's award-winning children's novel about Nigerian political refugees, The Other Side of Truth which included Byker Primary School children speaking to the author via Skype. And in December, they became the first theatre company of sanctuary in North East England, working across the city to make sure people feel the theatre is somewhere they feel welcome.

Tickets start at £10 from northernstage.co.uk or call the box office on 0191 230 5151. After Northern Stage (19-28 March), HERE will tour to The Holbeck, Leeds (19 April), Derby Theatre (22-23 April), Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (24-25 April), Sheffield Theatres (3 June), Nottingham Playhouse (6 June), Theatre Royal Wakefield (9 June) and Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle (11-12 June).



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