News / Arts & Entertainment

Australian Drama Portrays Refugees' Journey

"I Am Here" is being staged at the Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane, Australia."I Am Here" is being staged at the Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane, Australia.
x
"I Am Here" is being staged at the Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane, Australia.
"I Am Here" is being staged at the Queensland Theatre Company in Brisbane, Australia.
TEXT SIZE - +
Phil Mercer
— "I Am Here" follows the journey of six young refugees as they leave behind troubled lives in Africa and make a fresh start in Australia.  The play is based on true stories and premiered in the Australian city Brisbane.

The play explores the trauma they faced escaping violence as refugees from Rwanda, Congo and Ethiopia, and the stereotyping and discrimination they often endure in their adopted homeland.
 
One passage details the death of a refugee's mother from poisoning in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
 
The actors wrote the drama as a way of thanking their adopted homeland, and also to express the dismay they feel when they are stereotyped or denied opportunities because they are refugees.
 
One of the play's stars, Senayt Mebrahtu, says her acting career in Australia has been hampered by her background.

"Whenever I want to audition for something there is a character description which does not fit me," said Mebrahtu.  "I can bleach my hair, put contact lenses in, you know, blue eyes, but nothing else, so it is that we need to move on from being typecast as refugee or just background action as an African people.  We are Australian."
 
Organizers say the production is aimed at building understanding between refugees and Australians.
 
The Queensland Theatre Company production is supported by Kerrin Benson, the head of the Multicultural Development Association, which helps refugees when they arrive in Australia.
 
"It is rare that I have ever met a refugee who hasn't lost a loved one or seen a loved one killed, or experienced some significant torture or trauma," said Benson.  "So that is typical of all of the stories of the people that we work with. It is very rare that people haven't had some kind of culture shock in coming to Australia, and so that is a very typical part of the story.  And the other typical part is how people actually transform from being defined as a refugee to just being defined as an Australian citizen with a refugee background, so all of those bits are typical in the story."    

Australia has resettled about three-quarters of a million refugees since the early 1900s.  Granting sanctuary to those in need has in recent years become a divisive political issue as the government in Canberra tries to stem a steady flow of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.