Taking an unflinching look at the people behind the labels, Of Our Own Making asks how responsible society is for creating the ‘monsters’ it fears. Three characters flee the shores of Libya; each on their own personal journey, whilst a tabloid reporter awaits them on the beaches of Greece, seeking stories to fit a cynical narrative about the Syrian refugee crisis. Of Our Own Making examines our judgement of perpetrators in light of complex circumstances.
Saif is a man escaping atrocities that he was forced to commit. Amira is travelling across the Mediterranean with her friend Hussan to find a better life for her baby. Parsifal is a lost and lonely boy, neglected in real life and vulnerable online to those who would groom and exploit him. As Parsifal becomes more radicalised, Saif starts to reclaim himself, and Micky, an undercover tabloid reporter, finds the scoop she’s looking for to be more affecting than she’d anticipated.
Against the background of the Chilcot enquiry, the questions around the Iraq war, and the demonisation of immigrants, the meetings of these characters are shaped by the circumstances that have altered them.
Of Our Own Making will be accompanied by free workshops for teenage boys in Wandsworth, inviting young men to devise scenes using physical theatre to explore the circumstances that can make a person vulnerable to online grooming. The workshops will be run by Mark Nightingale, a lead mentor for national organisation A Band of Brothers, movement director Helen Parlor, who was assistant choreographer of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics, and playwright Jonathan Brown, whose past experience in mentoring boys that have faced forms of exclusion includes working with inmates at HMP Bristol, mentoring excluded boys and as a facilitator for Community Building in Britain.
The show has been developed with an international team, many of whom have personal connections with the issues in the show. Musician Dirk Campbell (Harry Potter, The Mummy) lost his daughter Anna in March 2018, ten months after she left home to fight Isis. Dirk will be providing an atmospheric soundtrack, and the cast will include Natali Servat, who played the title role in Amnesty International Freedom Of Expression Award-nominated Nazanin’s Story. Natali’s parents were Iranian refugees who fled to Sweden.
Writer and director Jonathan Brown said, “I wrote the play having felt personally affected by the tabloids use of the refugee crisis to stir up fear of immigrants, being deeply saddened by the Bataclan and Nice terrorist attacks, and noticing the tendency toward demonisation of the radicalised or conscripted. I would like the play to spark conversations on these matters, and to keep them going. As the writing progressed, the play called out to also be about masculinity, about male youth vulnerability, suicide, grooming, isolation and a yearning for positive male role models – themes prominent in my life and through my work with excluded boys and prison inmates.”
Of Our Own Making is at Tara Theatre 30th January to 16th February 2019.