Holroyd High students share refugee journey through theatre

A new theatre production shares the stories of Afghan students who experienced the fall of Kabul

Image: Students from Holroyd High School perform in the production of I Was There – sharing the stories and journey of their refugee experiences.

Students from Holroyd High School will take to the stage during Refugee Week (19 – 25 June), to share their own refugee experiences and journey with Treehouse Theatre, for their latest production, I Was There on 23 and 24 June at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre.

Staged under the direction of Holroyd High School Counsellor, Catherine Maguire-Donvito and Miller Technology High School Drama Teacher, Ruth Hartcher-O'Brien, this year’s production uses spoken word, movement, sound, light and projected imagery and shares 30 new stories from students from Afghanistan who experienced the fall of Kabul in August 2021 and are now students at Holroyd High School.

Since starting Treehouse Theatre with Ruth Hartcher-O'Brien in 2012, Catherine has used theatre and storytelling to draw out the experiences of refugee students and assist non-refugee students to better appreciate the lives of their refugee classmates who may be struggling with current resettlement issues and past trauma.

"Storytelling is a significant part of healing and growth. We use theatre as a way to facilitate the trauma recovery of our students and educate audiences on the reality of the refugee experience. Refugee students in the audience feel acknowledged and recognised.

“Refugee Week is an ideal time for all of us to recognise the trials and triumphs of our students, their courage and resilience in overcoming immense odds as refugees which also contributes to the collective story of our school and community,” Catherine said.

Tickets to I Was There are available through Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. Performances on Thursday, 23 June - 10.00am and 12:30pm and Friday, 24 June –10.00am, 12:30pm and 7pm. Duration 90 minutes, no interval. Ages 12 years old plus.

For those who cannot make this week’s performance, Syrian refugee students at Miller Technology High School and Treehouse Theatre’s next production – Found – will be performed at the Seymour Centre, Sydney on 3 and 4 November.

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