They’re here to stay! That’s the message from Refugee Week Scotland which officially runs from Monday 17 till Sunday 23 June. The many people who’ve settled here from a multitude of different countries share their culture, their heritage and their talents in a wide variety of events during the Week.
Mainly in Glasgow and Edinburgh, the celebrations range from serious drama, pub quiz nights, food sharing, photographic exhibitions, music and football tournaments to community gatherings and reflections on past waves of refugees.
There is something for everyone and many free events among more than 100 on offer.
Said Suzi Simpson, Arts & Cultural Development Officer for the Scottish Refugee Council which organises the Week: ‘This year we celebrate the diverse cultures and heritage that makes Scotland the place it is today. Most of all, this Week is about having fun.’
The opening concert will be on Monday 17 June in the Old Fruitmarket , Glasgow and will feature the incredible Admiral Fallow, award-winning Karine Polwart and former member of Arab Strap, the brilliant Malcolm Middleton. Funds raised will go to Scottish Refugee Council and the British Red Cross to support their work with refugees in Scotland.
Workshops, discussions, visual arts, literature, community gatherings and film will all be represented. Many schools are taking part and many people’s skills in music and drama particularly, have been developed through their involvement in projects.
Look for your free programme in your local library.
The Tron Theatre will be the venue for one of the most interesting theatrical performances of Refugee Week. Called “Here We Stay” it is a pacy and emotionally moving tale of real people’s stories of how they came to be in Glasgow.
Suzi Simpson, Arts and Cultural Development Officer, Scottish Refugee Council said:
‘We are delighted to see “Here We Stay” back on stage this year. It has been a real privilege to work with the Citizens Theatre (where it was performed last November) to deliver this exciting project with refugees, asylum seekers and the wider Glasgow community. It has also been a privilege to work with such a talented and diverse group of people who have shared their stories through theatre, song and film.’ Some of the same people who took part last year are involved this year along with some new people.
Added Suzi: ‘Over the course of devising, rehearsing and performing “Here We Stay” the group has really come together, making firm friendships and supporting each other to tell their stories in new and creative ways. It’s a powerful, moving and unique piece of theatre and a testament to the power of sharing our life stories.’
This production is also the launchpad for an insightful documentary of the project created by refugee participants supported by Urbancroft Films.
The Greeks do terrific tragedy. The Citizens’ Theatre goes one better. Mike Bartlett’s new version of Medea, the ancient horror story of filicide, becomes real, today, here and now and utterly believable. Even the blood looks warm!
Headlong, the Citizens’ and Watford Palace Theatre’s production runs till Saturday 13 October. Don’t miss it!
Rachael Stirling as Medea gives an astonishing performance as the volatile, calculating, highly intelligent and totally distraught woman who sees her husband’s impending marriage to another woman as betrayal which can only be countered by extreme punishment. Her brittle, amusing, crude and barbed conversations have echoes in many kitchens and cafes currently. The man of her sexual dreams and object of her venom is Jason played by a strong Adam Levy. He commands her attention while disenchanted with her lack of affection. The neighbours Sarah, played by Lu Corfield and Pam, played by Amelia Lowdell, give very different and distinctive supporting roles which convey the frequently ambivalent view of onlookers in any domestic dispute.
Without giving the game away on the modern take on the ancient tale, just be assured that Paul Brendan, Christopher Ettridge, Paul Shelley and Rory Macleod complete a powerful cast. The unique and clever Greek chorus is very amusing – as is much of the dialogue in this stunning production.
If not already sold out, this production deserves to be, so get your ticket fast!
At the end of a film presentation of life today in Palestine, the invited audience at the Citizens’ Theatre sat in silence. Almost in tears, organiser, Sahira Dar spoke for everyone when she said: ‘It is very emotional. This short film tells us more than an long talk. We can see for ourselves how apartheid destroys living and takes lives.’
The event was the launch of a thought provoking exhibition by Friends of Al-Aqsa showing photographs and art works highlighting how apartheid is operated by the state of Israel in its dealings with Palestine and people in Palestine.
Those who use apartheid in this context are witnesses to the inhumane way Israel treats Palestine and Palestinians.
One of the exhibitors was Edinburgh based Phil Chetwynd who has spent several weeks in different small Palestinian towns in recent summers giving photographic and camera workshops: ‘I’ve become aware that Israel is a rogue state. It is doing things which are in flagrant breach of international laws. It is stealing Palestinian land. Effectively this is ethnic cleansing.’
He spoke to the film which was shown. Made by his host Bilal Tamimi in collaboration with an Israeli film-maker is shows how Israeli troops shot tear gas at a small crowd of youths, how the troops manhandled children and women and it showed some of the wounds caused by rubber bullets. The attack on the villagers appeared to go on for most of a day. Said Phil: ‘skunk water is also power-hosed over people and some of the land. This is an obnoxious, poisonous water which rendered one house that was doused, uninhabitable for more than two months.’
The exhibition runs till Friday 24 February and is in the foyer of the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. It shows some of the photographs resulting from Phil’s workshop in October last year in Nabi Saleh where he worked with local man Ahmad Al-Bazz to give a group of young people aged from 11 to 17 photography skills.
Their collage in the exhibition shows the portrait of an earlier workshop attendee from 2010. The 17-year-old boy, Youssef Ikhlayl was shot dead in January 2011 by a bullet from an Israeli settler colony while he was working beside his father in the family field. ‘This exhibition is dedicated to him,’ says his picture caption. ‘No one has ever been arrested for his death.’
Artists and photographers from around the UK and beyond were invited to submit work for the exhibition on the theme – ‘This is Apartheid.’ Said Friends of Al-Aqsa spokeswoman, Sahira Dar: ‘This took months to organise. We selected those we felt represented the theme best. Artists include some from Glasgow, one from Cambridge and a drawing by a school boy in Gaza. They cover all ages and include professional photographers and artists as well as amateurs.’ She said the Friends would like to have the exhibition tour different venues.
Added Sahira: ‘I would like people outside of the pro-Palestine groups to come and view these images and be moved by them and go home and talk about what they’ve seen.’
Artists with suitable work to be shown at an art and photography exhibition in the Citizens’ Theatre have until Monday 13 February to offer submissions. Organised by the Friends of Al Aqsa Glasgow in collaboration with Glasgow University Palestinian Society, the exhibition will run from Monday 20 to Friday 24 February and is entitled ‘This is Apartheid.’
Said a spokesman: ‘We want to help people understand Israeli Apartheid and to help us fight injustice. The work can be of any size or medium, must be mounted appropriately and ready to exhibit. It must stick to the brief of ‘Israeli Apartheid.’ Digital images should be sent by email first for consideration: email@example.com
“Art has always been an important part of liberation struggles. It can inspire and convey concepts beyond words.”
Said a spokesman for the organisers: ‘Palestinian citizens of Israel are barred from controlling and developing over 90% of the land, and discriminated against in most aspects of life – particularly in education, health care, public services and employment; simply because they are Palestinians.
‘Palestinians expelled in 1948 and 1967 are denied the right to return to their homes and lands, while the fact that anyone of Jewish background – from anywhere in the world – has the automatic right to become an Israeli citizen and live in Palestine.
‘In the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Palestinians live under separate and discriminatory military law, in isolated Bantustans surrounded by the Wall.
‘We work to end all international complicity with this apartheid state. We are against all forms of discrimination and believe that there can never be justice without the restoration of full rights for everyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or nationality.’
Work on re-developing the inside front of the Govanhill Baths building is going so well that the space could be ready to welcome people who attend the unique Panto in the Baths on Friday 9 December.
The Citizens Theatre, as good neighbours of the Calder Street Baths building and its Community Trust and in association with the local Centre for Community Practice (CCP), aim to stage two performances that day – a matinee and an evening show.
And they are looking for VOLUNTEERS! ‘It could be performing or production or front-of-house roles,’ said Lisa Peebles, the Trust administrator. ‘We’d be delighted if anyone could find the time to help. They should contact Helen Ross, manager of the CCP on 0141 433 2999 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org in the first place.’ And don’t forget to book your ticket for the Panto in the Baths too but via Lisa! See the website: www.govanhillbaths.com.
Just last month, the Trust received a grant of £400k from Historic Scotland to develop the first phase of the Baths building which will incorporate offices for the Trust and function space for events. The whole project will deliver a Wellbeing and community centre for the area in time.