This week we offered a further enrichment and awareness-raising event to students as part of our Home project when we welcomed the Invisible Man Theatre company into college to deliver an interactive piece entitled “How to be Lucky”. Based on the life stories of over 70 Syrian families who were forced to leave their homes and arrived in the UK as part of our government’s Vulnerable People’s Resettlement Scheme, the piece focuses on the emotional impact that becoming refugees has on a fictional family, through the eyes of the father, Anwar.
Written by Artistic Director Stephen Burke, it was an emotional piece, and the discussions he conducted between the acts encouraged our students to question some of the news sources they rely on and to imagine themselves in Anwar’s shoes, whilst creating a greater understanding of civil war and the displacement from homes that it causes.
Actor Sid Akbar Ali, who played the central role of Anwar, moved many of the students and staff in the audience to tears and after the performance students went up to the pair to thank them and say how moved they were by the story.
Claire Scott, who organised the event reflected: “I think the performance event was a great success, and opened up the topic of migration in an accessible yet challenging manner. A college education is about so much more than simply learning how to respond to a 40 word question, or a specific grading criteria: it is about preparing young people for life, and this means allowing them to explore big themes and issues, questioning how they feel in an open and responsive manner to formulate opinions they have on crucial societal concerns. As a Performance Arts teacher of some 17 years at the college, I feel that Theatre is a great forum for this kind of discovery. The audience were made up of students from a range of levels of study and curriculum areas, and they listened with respect; responding empathetically.
After all, in the words of William Wilberforce himself:
’You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.’
We are Wilberforce College, and that means a great deal in terms of our duty in raising awareness of individual liberty and refuge regarding the plight of minorities. As such it is only right that we provoke debate on migration within our student cohort.”