Play hopes to dispel myths about refugees


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Sawa Theatre is much more than just a way to entertain an audience.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/09/2018 (1730 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Sawa Theatre is much more than just a way to entertain an audience.

The Winnipeg-based theatre company, founded in 2016, provides both a safe haven and an artistic outlet for young Syrian newcomers, especially those in their mid- to late teens who may be struggling to adapt to a new country.

Created by a group of university students and young artists, the spring/summer program culminates in the September production of an original collaborative work created by the participants, many of whom are refugees who recently arrived in Canada.

Supplied Mustapha Aljaber (centre top) and Mohammad Noor Aljaber in rehearsals for A Ten Star Family.

Part of the program’s goal is to help newcomers integrate into the community and make friends, as well as “express themselves freely and learn skills that can take with them beyond the stage, from public speaking to teamwork to even discipline and and commitment,” Sawa co-founder Shaden Abusaleh says in a release.

Another of Sawa’s goals is to challenge and overturn the harmful stereotypes too often associated with asylum-seekers — the ones that paint refugees with terms like “burden” or “illegals.”

The plays introduce audiences to Syrian-born actors telling Syrian stories, building a bridge between cultures.

A Ten Star Family — penned by Sawa participants in collaboration with Winnipeg playwright Gislina Patterson (Heavenly Bodies) — is a day-in-the-life tale of Mahmoud’s family as he and his nine siblings prepare to celebrate the youngest’s birthday.

The production, which incorporates music, movement and comedy, is in both Arabic and English, with subtitles provided for both languages, so it’s suitable for both English- and Arabic-speaking audiences. It runs at the Gas Station Arts Centre from tonight until Sunday. Twitter: @dedaumier

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Jill Wilson

Jill Wilson
Senior copy editor

Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.

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