A Thing Mislaid presented by Maison Foo Written and Co-Directed by: Bethany Sheldon and Kathryn Lowe Devised with- Teele Uustani, Raquel Pereira, Elena Casotto Designer- Sam Wilde Lighting Designer- Alexandra Stafford Composer- Matt Marks
Commissioned by: China Plate, Warwick Arts Centre, Mac Birmingham and In Good Company
Project and Tour supported by: Arts Council England, Derby Theatre, The Evan Cornish Foundation, European Regional Development Fund
Maison Foo embark on new Midlands-wide tour this Autumn whilst launching an innovative new Refugee and Asylum- seeking engagement project
After a decade of critically acclaimed tours and sell-out Edinburgh Fringe shows, Maison Foo are bringing their ground-breaking new work to audiences across the Midlands.
Inspired by migration, journeys and friendship A Thing Mislaid celebrates and questions the idea of what it means to leave your birthplace in search of a place to call home once more. Using Foo’s trademark style of humour, clowning and physical theatre mixed with exciting new experiments in miniature puppetry and live camera to create epic cinematic moments live on stage.
Beth Sheldon, Co- Director of A Thing Mislaid, said: “Whether you are interested in the migration stories that have inspired the work or you are just someone that has travelled, journeyed or dreamt of doing so, then this show is for you.”
Informed by A Thing Mislaid’s narrative, Maison Foo have partnered with Derby Theatre, Derby Refugee Advice Centre and Journeys Festival international to identify ways in which they could support refugees and those seeking asylum. From this, Maison Foo created The Refugee Friends Scheme in order to promote community cohesion, combat loneliness and isolation and to make their work more welcoming and accessible to those who may face barriers to accessing the Arts.
In 2017, Maison Foo’s Artistic Directors, Beth & Kate, visited the Derby Refugee Advice Centre (DRAC) to meet the volunteers and service users. During their visit they were deeply moved and saddened by a refugee who told them that he had been living in Derby for 2 years and that Kate and Beth were the first people outside of DRAC that he had had a proper conversation with since arriving.
This chance conversation led to the development of Maison Foo’s Refugee Friend Scheme. Funded by The Evan Cornish Foundation, Derby Theatre and Arts Council England, this scheme has now been established as a project in its own right; running alongside A Thing Mislaid tour and thereafter.
Beth continued: “We are making our show as welcoming and accessible as possible, this includes, translated show copy and a welcome message on our flyers into Arabic, Kurdish and Farsi; piloting a captioned version of the show in Arabic subtitles as well as English and a preshow synopsis available in Arabic, Kurdish and Farsi too. We are also hosting bespoke events called ‘Meet Your Neighbour’ that help to begin relationships between refugees and their surrounding communities.”
Maison Foo are also one of the first companies to use The Difference Engine captioning technology for theatre translations. Throughout their time of working with the refugees and asylum seekers in Derby, they have discovered that Arabic is the most widely spoken first language amongst the group. In order to break down the language barriers, Maison Foo will be using The Difference Engine to translate A Thing Mislaid into Arabic across the Midlands tour. Each tour venue will be invited to identify target groups to come and test out the translation tool as they watch the show. It is hoped over time that Maison Foo will continue to engage with a wide range of refugees and asylum seekers by developing a range of languages to translate across future tours.
Beth added: “Developing the Refugee Friends Scheme alongside our work is such an important part of this project. I cannot begin to put into words the impact meeting and working with the groups has had on us as artists. And now, to be able to work with theatres to make our work and their buildings a more welcoming experience for people who are currently isolated is so immensely rewarding. We hope we can begin to make a real difference during this tour for refugees and those currently seeking asylum which we can continue to grow and build on with many more venues in the future.”
Angela Russel, a volunteer with Derby Refugee Advice Centre said: “I love the theatre. I wanted to be able to share it with people coming in to our community, but mostly I am delighted to be part of a project which is listening to and responding creatively to the lives of asylum seekers. I can already see the effect it is having on their own emotional and creative responses.”
Ahmed Alabdali, who is originally from Saudi Arabia has been living in Derby for the last 2 and a half years. Involved in The Friends Refugee Scheme, he said: “I hadn’t been to the theatre until I came to England. I watched ‘Mountains’ by Lily Kwok at Derby Theatre and it was a real moment, I felt real emotion – theatre allows you to feel it directly.”
Nasrin Samavi is originally from Iran has been living in the UK for 15 years and she explained what Maison Foo’s latest project means to her: “I have lots of friends who are in the arts, in Iran we would go and see plays translated into Farsi. I myself am a writer and a poet. When you write you become light, it takes it out of your mind.”
Pictured: Angela Russel, DRAC Volunteer (top left), Kathryn Lowe (bottom left) Maison Foo Co-Director, Nasrin Samavi Member of DRAC Steering Group, Bethany Sheldon co-Artistic Director, Ahmed Alabdali Member of DRAC Steering Group, Teele Uustani Performer/Deviser, Raquel Pereira Performer/Deviser
A Thing Mislaid will be touring across the East and West Midlands at the following venues:
Friday 21 & Saturday 22 September 7.30pm – Deda Derby Wednesday 10 October 7pm – Mac Birmingham Thursday 11 October 6pm – Lincoln Drill Hall Wednesday 17 October 7pm – Arena Theatre Wolverhampton Thursday 18 October 7pm – Brewhouse Arts Centre Burton on Trent Saturday 20 October 7pm – Lakeside Arts Centre Nottingham Sunday 21 October 7pm – Attenborough Arts Centre Leicester