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Welcome to TaPRA 2019 at the University of Exeter!
KS

Kate Scarlett Duffy and Rebecca Hayes Laughton

Truths on whose terms? The significance of beginnings in theatre and performance work with refugee and asylum seekers in the UK 

When arts practitioners begin theatre and drama projects in social or applied theatre settings, the language used to state their aims can be simultaneously commonplace yet opaque / inexplicit. This paper seeks to interrogate terms, philosophies and popular methods in performance work with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK to explore claims of truth telling, giving voice and a desire for authenticity. How crucial / problematic are the terms we use when initiating these projects and what does this reveal about the limitations and potentially discriminatory discourses we may be perpetuating as our projects unfold? How are artists’ intentions for refugee visibility further complicated when work takes place against the institutional backdrop of the asylum system, where notions of ‘truth’ become sticky and written into the binary of victim / threat? What creative, practical or political decisions do practitioners make to move beyond ‘bureaucratic performances’ of asylum stories (see Jeffers 2008), and how/when do refugee artists participate in this decision making? With reference to Mieke Bal’s work on travelling concepts in the humanities and with a timely revisiting of Dwight Conquergood’s key ideas around a genuinely dialogical performance, centre stage will be refugee artists from the drama programme at London charity Women for Refugee Women and actors from Phosphoros Theatre, all of whom came to Britain as unaccompanied minor young men, in pre-recorded video commentary. Critically reflective provocations between Kate Duffy and Rebecca Hayes will generate a conversation critiquing their own direction, facilitation and research methods. Drawing on responses from their refugee colleagues captured on film during rehearsals and workshops in 2019 will present a multi-vocal exploration across a continuum of participatory community practice to nationally touring performance. Together they seek to simultaneously fracture and elucidate received and shifting ideas currently dominating the discourses of performance work with refugees.  
   
Rebecca Hayes Laughton is a part time second year research student at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD), London, UK, Glynne Wickham scholar. Visiting Lecturer and Practitioner, MA / MFA Advanced Theatre Practice, RCSSD, MA and BA Applied Theatre, RCSSD 
IFTR Belgrade May 2018 (Feminist Working Group): “Women and children first:  Do drama projects with refugee women reinforce traditional notions of paternalism or enable a feminist aesthetic of body and voice which effectively campaigns for social change?” 
 
RCSSD Intersections Conference paper Jan 2018: ‘Ethical Border Zones: the tortured female body as performer/victim/activist’  
RCSSD Crisis in Humanities Symposium, Dec 2017: ‘Surviving the Neoliberal University: Revaluing the labour of the Performing Arts’ for upcoming special issue of RiDE (Chair: Professor Kim Solga) 
Freelance Community Theatre Director / Producer,  
Women for Refugee Women weekly drama workshops at Southbank Centre www.refugeewomen.co.uk 
Rewrite Creative English weekly drama workshops for school children newly arrived in the UK 
Previous work as a television Commissioning, Production and Studio Manager at BBC, ITV, MTV and Independent Production Companies 1993-2014 
 
Kate Scarlett Duffy is a full time first year research student at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD), London, UK. LAHP scholar 2019-21. Holds MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies from SOAS (2015-17). Visiting lecturer and practitioner, MA & BA Applied Theatre, RCSSD. 

University of South Wales, April 2018 (Storytelling and Refuge / Storytelling for Refuge) 
‘In my chicken shop people look at me like I’m nothing, but these people pay to hear my story’ (with Syed Haleem Najibi 
 Critical Stages, 2016, issue no 14 ‘Unheard voices, unseen faces: staging stories of male refugee youth’ (with Rosanna Jahangard 
 Founder and co-artistic director of Phosphoros Theatre - nationally touring political and autobiographical performance with a cast of former unaccompanied minor actors, funded by Arts Council England and Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Lead practitioner on national creative workshops and training for refugee youth, schools and professionals working with unaccompanied minors, co-delivered with Phosphoros Theatre’s refugee actors. (www.phosphorostheatre.com) 
 Previously worked between 2012-2018 in the leadership of a grassroots Afghan refugee charity in London as a caseworker and housing manager for unaccompanied minor young men aged 16-21.