Press release: Asylon Theatre wins Awards for All funding for bilingual Arabic and Polish children’s play

Asylon Theatre has won funding from Awards for All to tour a bilingual play for children around the UK. The production will be performed partly in English and partly in Arabic and Polish, and will visit a number of migrant community hubs in areas like Manchester, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen. Some of the performances will be free of charge in an attempt to reach new and diverse audiences. The tour will take place in autumn 2016.

This is in response to the growing climate of intolerance towards migrant communities inside the UK. In a time when the government seeks to expel EU residents and Islamophobic attacks are on the rise, Asylon Theatre are troubled by the level of prejudice that is evident between cultures in the UK. They are especially concerned about perceptions of bilingualism, which other projects like Bilingualism Matters have worked hard to promote as good for children’s development. The theatre company’s director Marta Mari has learnt from experience about the difficulties of fostering bilingualism in second-generation children, who might reject one parent’s language based on what is spoken on the playground. By performing bilingual theatre inside the UK Asylon Theatre aims to celebrate migrant languages and bring native and international UK audiences together in a communal artistic experience.

Fraxi Queen of the Forest originally debuted in English at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015, where it raised awareness about the devastating fungus known as ash-dieback. The team have since completed a Scottish tour where they partook in key events like the Edinburgh International Science Festival and visited a number of schools in Inverness. The play tells the story of Fraxi, a winsome ash tree living in a Scottish forest, and her relationships with the wildlife and the people that she encounters. Using a mixture of speech and physical theatre, the team transforms a variety of biological processes and eco-systems into a sweet and emotional drama. 

Asylon Theatre has received compliments for their use of dance to make complex scientific facts accessible to everyone, and so are confident that they can make their story similarly understandable across languages. Other key themes in the play such as change, loss, and resilience are also familiar to the migrant experience, making this Scottish play ideal for an international audience.

Produced and directed by Asylon Theatre’s artistic director Marta Mari with original music score composed by Greg Sinclair (CATS award winner), and costumes designed by Annie Hiner. Starring: Melanie Jordan (Fringe First Award winner), Robin Hellier, Agathe Girard and Amelia Szypczyńska as a child narrator. Written by Scottish New Playwright Award winner Jack Dickson with choreography by Emma Jayne Park.