As is becoming the norm, I am still processing what I am about to write about and I truly hope that my words do the theatre production Tree of Life – Recovery justice.
A couple of weeks ago my very old school friend, Kylie, asked if I wanted to see the production with her. It is refugee children telling their stories. I immediately said yes and have been excited since. Today we saw it.
It is produced by Treehouse Productions/Theatre. It is overseen by a school teacher and a psychologist. It stars the students of Miller High School in Liverpool. The students are all refugees and most have only been in Aistralua for one to two years. English is their second language and they have all fled from horror to be in Australia.
From the second the lights went down I felt that what I was about to experience was transformational.
O. M. G.
And I must pause in my writing. And my reflection lest the tears bucket down.
Anyone that knows me could predict my opinion on refugees and asylum seekers. We are all human beings, and we all deserve safety and happiness, and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that every other human and animal is okay.
Easy to hold that opinion. Easy to believe in every bit of it. Easy to watch Go Back To Where You Came From, cry a few tears, get angry, become passionate, and switch the television off to continue living my life.
Today will not be switched off. And the tears prick the back of my eyes and my nose starts to tingle.
There is an authenticity and magic in storytelling that transforms. Tree of Life embodies this.
The piece opened with the kids on stage, barefoot, black track pants, and a solid colored t-shirt. Kylie and I had laughed before the lights went down because we each had a tissue in hand in preparation. We didn’t expect that the opening sequence would realise the necessity of our preparation but thank god we had the tissues.
A moving physical embodiment of their stories and the necessity of community.
We heard a selection of childhood stories first. Normal child life stories: taking dad’s car keys and the car, watching movies with friends, normal children’s lives. And we all laughed.
Then the horror. As their villages changed and their country changed, the horror was unleashed. The kids introduced the segment of their story whilst other students performed a montage. Sound effects and the occasional visual on a screen added to the authenticity of the atmosphere, and added a layer of emotion for the audience. Deeply moving.
Seeing the stories of the kids performed by the kids – my god, their courage and bravery – we take our freedom so much for granted. We take our safety for granted (thank you to our defense forces and police officers). We take our homes and our families and our friends for granted.
We truly do live in the lucky country.
And from the horror, we move to celebration. The kids achieving their Learners License, being granted refuge in Australia, families being reunited here, an education.
Kids telling their stories. The power of theatre. The power of education.
As they bowed, and we all stood, so overcome, the kids became kids and looked truly humbled. What a blessing for healing that they can share the stories of their lives and see the transformational effect on an audience of Australian adults realizing how truly blessed they are.
Please look this production up. Please go and see it. Please let me know if you do, how it made you feel.
I wish I could take my kids to see it. I will be trying to make something happen. I think everyone should see it, but especially our media giants and every single politician. Should be mandatory viewing.
Then our world may start to know peace.
And embrace compassion.
I am blessed to have a friend like Kylie who found it and shared it.
Do yourself a favour … It will change your world.