Exhibition Panel 4
Rights of the Child
“A collaboration with The British Council in Kampala led to ‘These Rights are Mine’ a performance about the Rights of the Child developed with six secondary schools in Kampala. The show toured widely and culminated in a performance at the Ugandan National Theatre. The young people focused on the rights that were most important to them; child soldiers and sexual abuse within families featured in the play. We invited government officials and charities to the performance, that had a strong impact on the audience, one of whom said “Our children are speaking the truth about things we hide, we must learn from them.”
While in Uganda we met a group of AIDS orphans who had made a puppet show to warn other children about HIV/ AIDS so they could protect their parents. British Council and an Irish charity GOAL paid for us to return and work with these young people to teach them how to make durable puppets and performances that would communicate their concerns effectively. Together we made a giant woman to attract a crowd and smaller foam puppets for a hilarious street show that busted myths about HIV and AIDS. Sadly, most of those young people have since died.
Other projects in Africa include ‘Your Vote Counts’ with British Council Tanzania working with Tanzanian actors, researching and creating street performances about the democratic process to go to poor communities. Also, in Kigoma Tanzania we worked with a local NGO to develop a project about Women’s Reproductive Rights using forum theatre methods. I worked as a consultant in participatory drama for British Council Zambia and for a local NGO in Liberia.”
“A second SCF commission to create better understanding about refugees, led to research with refugees in Britain and in the Hong Kong refugee camps. We made shadow puppet stories with children and took them for short walks outside the harsh razor wire and concrete environment when we could get permission. We gathered stories from their families who were all living in impossibly cramped conditions.
In Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, people were very keen to work with us. We spent a hectic month cycling to work in with ten different groups; teachers of children disabled by chemical warfare, Deaf children, orphaned street children and former prostitutes and drug abusers released from re-education. We created a street performance about HIV/ AIDS. We made appropriate puppet shows with each group and organised an event in one of the orphanages, where each group performed. The government’s Head of Children for South Vietnam remarked “the capitalists are working harder than the communists.”
A collaboration with the Hanoi Water Puppeteers led to a ‘dry’ performance under a thatched teak longhouse, with the Zao settled nomads up in the far north of the country.
Coming home inspired, we created ‘Moving’, a story of two Vietnamese children’s journey to the UK. The story opens with a Vietnamese dragon lying down and turning into the landscape of Vietnam. People farm on the dragon’s flanks, planting rice and ploughing with water buffalo. Then war comes, sounds of explosions with a rain of smoking shoes hitting the stage. Nguyen flees with his family on the first step of a dangerous journey across the South China Sea seeking safety with thousands of other refugees. Not everyone will get to sanctuary in another country. Pirates attack their boat and people are taken, but Nén and Tue the child protagonists make it to a refugee camp in Hong Kong and eventually to London.
Adrian Wagner composed an emotional soundtrack that formed a strong element of the performance. ‘Moving’ toured schools and community venues 1993 – 1995 UK-wide, with accompanying drama workshops exploring how it feels to be a stranger. We were involved in developing the first Refugee Week.
Other work with refugee issues includes ‘Diogel?/ Safe?’ 2001- 2004, working through drama with host communities in Wales to build understanding of why people are forced to flee and may become your neighbours.
Small World Theatre partnered Winding Snake Productions to make ‘Noddfa’ 2017 a short, animated film. Small World Theatre used participatory drama methods working with refugees from The Oasis Centre, Cardiff as a means to tell their traumatic stories. NODDFA was screened by WOW Film Festival and DocYourWorld 2017 in Chicago. It has now been entered into other short film festivals.”