Arts theatre artsdepot in North Finchley hosts unique refugee inspired performances
11:20am Sunday 9th May 2010
Source: The Times
AN arts project aimed at “combating isolation” amongst people newly arrived in the country took to the stage in North Finchley last week.
Roots and Wings, a programme run by the theatre artsdepot, in Tally Ho, offers refugees, asylum seekers and people recently arrived in the UK, a chance to engage through performance and art.
The latest project culminated on Friday when the Jasmine Women's Group created a piece of theatre using images and movement which organisers said “explore the significance we give to artefacts in museums”.
The youth group, using London as their inspiration, also created a piece which explored spoken language, body language and dance in the urban setting.
Both the performances were designed to learn about each other's cultures and to integrate into British culture, and Cate Gordon, outreach officer, said: “It is important for us to offer something that allows these people who are around the borough of any age to access our services.
“In terms of engagement, it is quite flexible, because they don't have a lot of control over their lives and is important for us to give them options.
“It is important for them to meet new people and settle into living into the UK.”
People of all religious and cultural backgrounds from across Europe take part in the programme, which is run in collaboration with Barnet Refugee Service, whose staff provide a range of support services for refugees and asylum seekers in the borough and around the UK.
About 60 people are associated with the project, and professional artists and performers are brought in to work with the groups on the final shows.
Ms Gordon added: “It helps them overcome language barriers and combat the isolation many of them may feel when they come over.
“It is good for them to engage with people who have similar experiences and it is important for us to act as a centre for all the people of Barnet.”
One 15-year-old participant in the scheme said: “It's difficult if you are in a new country but we're together, so it feels like we're back home.
“It's just one world, we are all one.”
Another participant, 17, said: “We should have Roots and Wings because it gives a chance for people from other countries to live a dream. It is a dream come true.”