Performance Reflection on Safina AL-Hayat

On the 5th of November 2015, I went to watch a performance called “Safina AL-Hayat” meaning life boat in Arabic, performed at London’s Oval House. Created by Stella Barns (a founder member of Refugees and the Arts Initiative) and Paper Project, a company consisting of migrant artists that collaborate with MA students from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Paper Project creates performances that explore the issues and experiences of migration, specifically, young children who are trafficked and the racial issues that follow immigrants that migrate from under developed countries.

The performance in which I watched was focused around resent events in Syria, with thousands of Syrians fleeing the country due to political and cultural issues that was/is destroying their home.  The performance included audience participation, when the actors started to hand over origami boats. When the boat was opened up, stories of current events were displayed giving information on issues that need to resolved as they are distorting a country.

Once the performance had finished and I started to reflect, the reading ‘Drawing a Line’ wrote by Stella Barns came to mind. The reading touches upon how the performances are based on true stories in which the refuges have faced and the emotional and physical struggle that the refuges would face when leaving their home. I came out of the performance feeling emotional and physically attached to the characters portrayed because it made me think of the stories that my granddad had shared with me and brother’s when we were younger. The stories were about when he immigrated over here to get away from Yemen, and the issues that affected him and his family.


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