In 2014 Xavier Project had the idea to use theatre to demonstrate what life is like for refugees living in Nairobi. After a few months researching and scriptwriting we have come up with a fantastic new play that uses comedy, drama and elements of surrealism to explain some of the problems faced by refugees in East Africa. The play is called Leftovers and will be performed at The Tristan Bates Theatre from 1st-6th June, in the run up to Refugee Week 2015. The proceeds of the event will go to the Xavier Project charity.
The Story: Hew
In October 2014 I went to Nairobi to work with Xavier Project. Over my two month visit I travelled round the capital and talked to the refugees the charity was supporting. Their stories ranged from tragic and hopeless to bizarre and inspiring. However all distinctly conveyed a sense of humanity and character that so often goes undocumented in discussions about refugees. When thinking about what to do about the 50m refugees around the world, it is far too easy to forget that each of those 50m is an individual with their own particular quirks, charms, virtues and flaws. The overwhelming sense of character that I came across was the inspiration behind Leftovers.
To read about some of the stories I heard, check out this blog I kept while out there.
As well as getting to know the refugees I also spent all my free time with the XP staff. From this small and cheerful community of Kenyans, Ugandans and expats, I began to recognise the recurring problems that charities who help refugees often come across, in particular the common misconception about the role of resettlement. Resettlement is when the UNHCR decides that an individual refugee cannot continue living in their current country and are unable to return to their country of origin. In these situations the refugee is relocated to a safer environment in a third country, such as the US, Australia or Canada. The reality is that only 1% of the 10.5m refugees the UNHCR is involved with are ever resettled. However, this doesn't stop refugees, determined for a better quality of life, going to extraordinary lengths to secure resettlement. What's more is that the belief that they will succeed and soon be moving to a new country prevents them from trying to establish their own lives in their current country, meaning that development is impossible.
The refugees I met fascinated me. I spent my two months in Kenya writing a script that I hope will convey this complex problem in an entertaining and moving way, while also allowing for the vibrant individualism of the refugees' characters to shine through and remind us that 50m refugees means 50m personalities.
What do we need?
To put on this fantastic production and to help the charity send its message we desperately need your help.
Although we plan to beg, borrow and cadge most of props and costumes, there are some that will need paying for.
In order for the play to be a success we need as many people to see it as possible. For this we'll need a sophisticated marketing strategy including posters, fliers and video trailers.
We plan to rehearse throughout May and for this we'll need rehearsal space for at least 36 hours.
For our venue, we require insurance for public and employer liability, and equipment.
Transporting our props, costumes and other equipment to The Tristan Bates Theatre will also require funding.
Where else are we getting our funding from?
We are currently applying for grants from a number of charitable schemes. We will keep you updated as to the success of these applications.
We have also put together a sponsorship package that we will offer to local businesses near the theatre. This will be a last resort as since we are already trying to promote a specific message and an actual charitable organisation, we do not want to have to also promote a second company. We would offer three opportunities: Gold £1,500, Silver £1,000, and Bronze £500. Each would have corresponding benefits for the company.
Again, we shall keep all of our Kickstarter followers updated as to our success, or lack thereof.
We will be incredibly grateful to anyone who pledges any amount of money to our project! Our rewards range from simple but heartfelt thank you letters, to free tickets in the front row for the performance, a copy of the OnStage 2015 script with thank-yous from everyone involved and finally a variety of Rafiki Fabrix products, created by refugees working with Xavier Project in Nairobi (see the video below!)
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge, essentially our mission, is to get as many people to watch the play as possible and to start people thinking about refugees in a new, more in depth and sensitive way. We have 420 tickets to sell so marketing is extremely important.
The play needs 6 actors; casting the right people in the right roles is essential. Therefore we need to make sure that our play and the auditions themselves are heavily publicised, to ensure that we get a rich selection to choose from.
There is always the potential to secure a second venue, increase our audience capacity and the plays reach, thus making OnStage all the more successful.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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