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Young Vic becomes the First Theatre of Sanctuary in London

IMG-20160804-WA0006 (1)The Young Vic were presented with a Theatre of Sanctuary Award in July 2016. It was at the opening night of a play called “Now We Are Here” which was written by four refugees that the Young Vic have been working closely with. The production was incredibly moving  and the audience was duly blown away by the intensity and humanity displayed and by the stunning performances. A wonderfully moving and life affirming experience! The Young Vic are keen for the production to tour so if you think your local theatre would be interesting in showing it, encourage them to get in touch with Imogen at the Young Vic on [email protected]

In order to become a Theatre of Sanctuary, the Young Vic had to show written evidence of three key principles: that they had learnt about asylum issues, embedded a culture of welcome into their community and shared their learning with others. Their evidence was assessed by an appraisal group consisting of Nawal Careem who is seeking sanctuary, Daniel Carter from Camdon City of Sanctuary and Ruth Hannant from the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the theatre that became the first Theatre of Sanctuary. Rose McCarthy collated their comments and in her feedback to the Young Vic said

“All I can say is WOW! This is amazing work and brought a tear to my eye. I have been working in the Refugee World since 2003 and sometimes it feels as if people don’t care. Then you read something like this and it restores your faith in humanity. Thank you so much for all you do and for going for an award to be recognised as a Theatre of Sanctuary. This is not just a celebration of what you do but a public sign of your support for asylum seekers and refugees and the City of Sanctuary”

If you would like to read the Young Vic’s evidence you can do so by clicking  on this link . By the end of the month we hope to have a film from the Young Vic showing what they have done to become a Theatre of Sanctuary too.

The appraisal team were invited to the opening of “Now We are Here” and Rose presented the award after the show.  David Lan, the Artistic Director received the award and said, Theatres are places where strangers come together in peace.   While the world feels chaotic, the Young Vic is happy to welcome people who need a home they didn’t know they had”.

The Young Vic says it “Aims to tell stories that change the way people look at the world. We are responding to the world as it is now and what really matters in the world today is the extraordinary movements of people from across the world, especially the Middle East, Europe and Africa. As London’s first Theatre of Sanctuary, the Young Vic aims to provide a powerful means for audiences at home and abroad to connect with the political, social and human realities refugees face whilst inviting and welcoming people from all backgrounds to our building.”

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‘The cast of Now We Are Here. Photos by Helen Murray’

The Horizons season is the Young Vic’s response to the world as it is now, featuring an exploration of the lives of refugees.

‘The cast of This season has featured a short film, “Astoria” by Paul Mason, the courageous Queens of Syria alongside Developing Artists, sharing stories written by refugees in “Now We Are Here” and an adaptation of Jonny Steinberg’s book “A Man of Good Hope” with Isango Ensemble.”

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The Young Vic says “it is extremely pleased that their commitment to raising awareness of the plight of refugees has been recognised by the Sanctuary movement and we hope it encourages other organisations and individuals alike to amplify the voices of the people who need to be heard.”

The idea of becoming a Theatre of Sanctuary is beginning to spread. The Old Vic is interested as is the Theatre Royal and Home Theatre in Manchester. If there were Theatres of Sanctuary across the UK offering welcome and inclusion to asylum seekers and refugees maybe they would have opportunities to leave their troubles behind for a short while and have some fun. After all we all need a bit of fun in life, don’t we?