Highly acclaimed play on refugee experience coming to Derry

Sole Purpose Productions, a theatre company who work with marginalised communities, is bringing a highly acclaimed play about the refugee experience to Derry.

Patricia Byrne, Artistic Director of Sole Purpose Productions, invited London-based theatre company PSYCHEdelight to perform its play, Mohand & Peter, in Derry as part of Good Relations Week September 19-25. Mohand & Peter will be staged in Pilots Row Community Centre in Derry on September 23 and 24.

Patricia saw the play while in London in March and was determined to bring it to the north. She contacted the Founder of PSYCHEdelight and the play’s Director, Sophie Bertrand Besse, and the pair worked together to make it happen with support from the Community Relations Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Sophie said the purpose of the play is to address the trauma of long-term exile and to rehumanise people and places.

Mohand & Peter tells the true story of a London-based Sudanese refugee who longs to return to his homeland to see his friends and family. It will be shown in Pilots Row in Derry on September 23 and 24.

She said: “Behind each refugee and war zone there is a person and a home. With Mohand & Peter we aim to celebrate them.”

Mohand & Peter tells the true story of a London-based Sudanese refugee who longs to return to his homeland to see his friends and family. Despite the serious theme, it is packed full of humour, physical theatre and is suitable for adults, families and young people.

PSYCHEdelight Theatre facilitated arts-based workshops in the notorious Jungle Refugee Camp in Calais throughout 2015-2016. Sophie witnessed among the refugees an eagerness for comedy as a way to contrast and express their tragedy.

The play stars real life friends, Mohand Hasb Alrosol Abdalrahem from Sudan and Peter Pearson from Newcastle upon Tyne. Mohand, a Sudanese refugee, is missing his home and family so he transports Peter and the audience on a wonderful journey to his homeland.

Mohand and Peter will come to Derry on September 23 and 24.

Performances will be followed by Q&As with the actors and director. The company will also run Together Workshops which will provide a space for refugees and host communities to mix, socialise and have fun. These workshops are run regularly at the Southwark Playhouse and The Park Theatre in London.

Patricia said her interest in the situation for refugees was linked to her experience of being the child of Irish immigrants growing up in London in a multicultural, immigrant, working class area.

She said: “My parents often felt discriminated against. They remembered the signs that said ‘no blacks, no Irish, no dogs’ so, I’ve always endeavoured to promote multi-cultural work through Sole Purpose Productions.”

Patricia Lavery, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “The Arts Council of NI is proud to support Sole Purpose working with PSYCHEdelight Theatre with this latest production which demonstrates the power of using the arts to shine a light on and create open discussion around challenging, important subjects. Congratulations to all involved.”

Sole Purpose has been working with refugees and asylum seekers for the past six years delivering Theatre in Language workshops and hosting Conversation Cafés in Derry, bringing refugees and local people together.

Mohand & Peter will be staged in Pilots Row Community Centre in Derry on September 23 and 24. Tickets £10. The performance on Friday 23rd September will be a special free event for Culture Night. Free tickets will be available for refugees and asylum seekers.