After their site visits, Linda and Ibrahim returned to Sweden with a solid and engaged picture of what each theater group was planning to communicate in their project. Both performances put the spotlight on the refugee crisis in their respective countries and later on in Sweden, which up to five per cent of its population is estimated to have a Middle-Eastern background. The wide range of different ethnic groups and religious adherences of the Swedish society along with the violent changes that are taking place across the Middle East and North Africa following the Arab uprising inspired the establishment of the connection between the communities of Sweden and the MENA region that this project was trying to establish.
After 6 months of play design and rehearsals, each of NCCA and APTF made it to Sweden to perform at the Halmstad International Street Theatre Festival 2015. Each group took the stage with the goal of illustrating the life conditions of Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. For example, one of the scenes that NCCA’s ‘Intersection’ play displayed was a scene of a man and his wife discussing the price rise of rent and services, and how that impedes them from helping friends back home. Another scene showed a traveler crossing from Syria to Jordan. These plays did not only expose the difficulties and dangers of the journey but also denounced the lack of choices that refugees have when they emigrate and the reasons behind this trip. APTF and NCCA’s tour in Sweden allowed them to perform their plays in places like universities, NGOs, public parks and refugee camps. Both plays took place in different locations in South Sweden (including Halmstad and Helsingborg) as a part of the Halmstad International Street Theater Festival between the 22nd to the 26th of July 2015. APTF also performed in Denmark as requested by the organisers of the Festival.
As Europe faces one of the most pressing refugee crisis, each of NCCA and APTF’s performances helped encourage a dialogue within the Swedish society around the issues explored in the performances. These also allowed the Swedish diaspora communities to welcome their heritage communities to Sweden in a way that celebrates links between Sweden and the country of origin of the plays. In addition, the shows managed to reach out to native Swedish audience members who have an interest in international affairs and human rights. Though both performances were in Arabic, the Swedish audience managed to feel the strength of the performances and the message they were portraying as booklets were distributed in advance and performances included less dialogue and more non-verbal communication and music.
This project was funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery