Trinity Western University students have created an original theatre production based on personal interviews with refugees to Canada.
The show, called disPLACE: Refugee Stories in Their Own Words, tells the true stories of people who courageously shared their experiences with the artists — from Mennonite immigrants who fled Europe after the Second World War, to recently arrived Syrian refugees.
One family, fleeing guerrilla forces in Colombia, concealed themselves among the furniture in a moving truck. A refugee from Iraq arrived in Delta as a teenager, braving the social dynamics of high school with very little English and her head shaven from surgery. These and other personal experiences, captured word-for-word in the dialogue, take on even more poignancy with the original music woven through the production.
“I was stunned by the stories we heard,” said Langley’s Kate Nundal, a third-year theatre major who plays violin and viola in the show.
“I’ve seen stuff like this on TV, but knowing that someone right here in my community actually witnessed a moment like that — hearing it from her own lips — that’s something else altogether. Creating disPLACE has changed me more than any other theatre experience I’ve had.”
Director Angela Konrad, Chair of Theatre at TWU’s School of the Arts, Media + Culture, conceived disPLACE to be presented in the SAMC season as a launch piece for her newly formed company, Dark Glass Theatre. Humanitas Anabaptist-Mennonite Centre, which has ties to TWU, is the umbrella organization for Dark Glass Theatre and will continue to support the company’s future productions.
“The mandate of Dark Glass Theatre is to tell stories that enable us to see, face-to-face, people we might not otherwise meet,” Konrad explained.
“Compelling, personal stories can have a profound impact — decreasing judgement, increasing compassion, and fostering empathy. I believe it’s essential for TWU students to work on projects like this.”
Konrad and the rest of the creative team will host an informal, educational event for high school students on Nov. 30. The night includes dinner, admission, and a post-show talkback for $10. To register, email email@example.com.
The production features five actors who transform themselves into multiple characters over the course of the show: Uliana Akulenko, Emmett Hanly, Keenan Marchand, Kate Nundal and Jane Oliphant.
The dates are Nov. 22 to Dec. 3, Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. on Dec. 3. Each performance is followed by a talkback, moderated by a specialist in refugee issues.
Book tickets at www.twu.ca/theatre or call 604-513-2188.