I'm writing this as I venture off to lands unknown and new adventures. I love visiting and learning about other cultures and countries and I'm fascinated by the tiny little things that make each region unique alongside the big things that make countries different. Storytelling is a universal trait and theatre is a great way of telling stories - bringing us along on a journey and showing culture rather than imagining it. When I lived in London, I loved to go see theatre from all over the world. I was brought to new countries and taken into the experiences that others have lived. Reading an article online about something happening in far off places can be very informative, but I really enjoyed being brought into someone's life for an hour or two and hearing their story of what is happening, rather than just hearing the facts.
When I moved home to Belfast, I missed seeing theatre from around the world. I wanted people to be able to witness stories they wouldn't normally hear and I wanted theatre to be used to help people learn more about issues facing others around the world. As more and more news came from Syria, and the events there seemed to be deteriorating it felt like the right time to start sharing stories through theatre.
I met Mohammad al Attar while studying in London, he's a playwright from Damascus, and has written plays about life in Syria right now. He gave us permission to use his work and From Elsewhere was born. A series of readings by international writers, looking at issues from their homes, performed in ours. It was amazing to find a venue for free and actors willing to donate their time so that we could give all the proceeds to work being done with Syrians displaced because of the conflict. The process of putting together the reading was tough going at times, the subject matter wasn't easy to read and as the stories are based on real testimony, there needed to be a real respect for everything that was said. In the end, I hope that we did justice to those stories and gave the audience a new perspective on life in Damascus. I am so grateful to everyone who helped us make this happen, hopefully we can continue to bring plays from around the world to Belfast, even just for one night.
From Elsewhere: Syria was performed on 28th February 2013 in the Galley Café on the Belfast Barge