World Spirit are celebrating after their second successful schools project with students at Shawlands Academy in Glasgow this week. Working with two groups of 3rd year students (with about 25 students in each group) over 2 days, World Spirit performed a revised-version of Rami and Janet inspiring discussion and participation on the issues faced by asylum seekers as well as the problem of intolerance in our communities.
During the workshop and the performance of the play students were shy to begin with but as they understood the method of forum theatre, soon they enjoyed taking action to change the fate of Rami and Janet!
The play follows two young people – Janet a young local girl with a protective father, and Rami a young asylum seeker whose family is under threat of forced-removal – as they fall in love (albeit young love) but struggle to navigate the intolerant attitudes of their friends and family. Eventually due to the pressures of those around them they separate, there-by further intrenching segregation within the community.
After performing the play once with the above outcome, students got a second chance to watch the play and to intervene when they observed behaviour or actions which they didn’t agree with.
During the interventions, the students recognized and attempted to change the lack of dialogue between the parents of Rami and Janet. The students thought both families needed to understand each other to breakdown barriers of hatred. Trying to communicate and create a safe space for dialogue was the main message offered by the students.
It was positive to see students acknowledging how negative images from the media can affect peoples thinking of asylum seekers and how, as a society we should be critical of certain news sources.
At the end of the play, the students were given post-it notes to write down any thoughts about the format of forum theatre and if they had enjoyed the play. Here are some comments from the students:
“The play was really enlightening and i really enjoyed it. The audience participation was good and gave a chance to give our opinions.”
“The play was interesting and informative”
“Getting involved made it more exciting”
“It was good having people get involved”
” I found the play very helpful”
World Spirit appreciates the opportunity given by Shawlands Academy to show what asylum seekers ‘really’ go through while seeking safety in the UK and the problems they face.
Pinar, performing in the role of Janet, and a former Shawlands Academy student said of the workshop:
“Seeing students who were able to identify the problems asylum seekers could face was very interesting as this shows the younger generation is understanding the meaning of an asylum seeker and how they are not [just] coming to take any benefits or houses but for a better life for their future!”