Asylum seekers’ experiences to be brought to stage in Derry

Lives in Translation featuring Julie Maxwell, Raquel McKee and Tony Flynn (Photography by Carrie Davenport.)
Lives in Translation featuring Julie Maxwell, Raquel McKee and Tony Flynn (Photography by Carrie Davenport.)

A hard-hitting new play based on interviews with female Somali asylum seekers living in the north will be staged in Derry this weekend as part of its world premiere tour.

Kabosh will be bringing playwright Rosemary Jenkinson’s ‘Lives in Translation’ to the stage at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin on Great James Street this Saturday, November 4 at 8pm.

Directed by Paula McFetridge, Lives in Translation is based on interviews with the asylum seekers and their support workers.

The show celebrates the human survival instinct through the story of one woman, Asha, who, in fleeing conflict, becomes trapped in a different struggle within the suffocating bureaucracy surrounding asylum seeking.

All of the performances on the tour are taking place in venues that have a thematic link to the play. Staging the show in the Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin is designed to link in to the relationship with language and how much of an impact translation/ interpretation has upon how we present ourselves to the world and how the world views us.

Performed by Tony Flynn, Julie Maxwell and Raquel McKee. and featuring original music by Dónal O’Connor and video art by Conan McIvor, this poignant new drama explores how recent asylum seekers must navigate support systems through translation, how disempowering and frustrating this system can be, and ultimately how time is controlled most by those it affects least.

Paula McFetridge, Artistic Director of Kabosh, says Kabosh is dedicated to giving voice to the people in our community whose stories most need to be heard.

“Those individuals going through the asylum and refugee process need to be represented in our shared culture and community.

“We aim to foster an understanding of the struggles endured and encourage informed debate. Theatre is a powerful tool for sharing perspectives collectively, the impact of which is felt long after the audience has left the space.

“Staging the performance in Cultúlann Uí Chanáin is a reminder of our intimate connection with language and how difficult and disempowering it can be when our words and stories are filtered through translation, when we are forced to rely on another’s interpretation. What gets lost in translation?”

Rosemary Jenkinson, Playwright, said: “Two years ago, I was shocked to read in the papers about a refugee who felt so let down by government agencies that he set himself on fire outside Belfast City Hall to draw attention to his plight.

“The refugee crisis is clearly the urgent political story of our time. To write ‘Lives in Translation’ I interviewed asylum seekers living in Belfast to learn the truth about their lives, from why they had to leave their countries through to the complexities of trying to claim asylum within the UK and Ireland.”

Gilly Campbell, Arts Development Officer for Drama and Dance, added: “Lives in Translation is a powerful, challenging drama which reflects the times we live in and demonstrates the value of the arts in stimulating discussion around difficult social issues.

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is pleased to support Kabosh with this new production and I would encourage everyone to go along.”

Tickets for the performance are £8/ £5 and are available from Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin box office, online at and by phone on 028 7126 4132.

Booking and information for all other performances can be found at