Nottingham & Notts Refugee Forum is a charity offering advice, support and friendship to refugees and asylum seekers. They were invited to be part of The Jingah Project, a fantastic theatrical collaboration based around the theme of environmental responsibility. Led by Chloé Charody Creations, the project brought together world-class artists and performers to create exciting opportunities for a number of Nottingham community groups.
We invited families supported by the Refugee Forum to a workshop day in the City Arts garden. They met Duncan Townsend, co-writer along with Chloé Charody of JINGAH ISLAND (a modern musical and storybook). Duncan taught the families the Jingah Theme Song and its choreography. They also worked with artist and designer Bryony McCombie-Smith, using recycled materials to create hand puppets. Later, families watched a performance of JINGAH ISLAND at Squire Performing Arts Centre.
Sarah Wilson from the Refugee Forum shared her thoughts about the project:
There is a wonderful song (in the show) about resistance and solidarity called Bread and Roses that I can’t help but think of when reflecting on this project. The core message is that to truly live, to thrive not just survive, we need beauty as well as material goods. In financially supporting vulnerable communities to access and engage in the arts, as well as alleviating material barriers to engagement in society, you have really embodied this ethos.
It has been a privilege and a joy to be part of the workshops and see the performance Jingah has brought to life- in particular, to see children from families I support, laugh, dance and sing. The conversations I’ve had over the last few weeks with young people inspired and eager to get into performing arts, with mums overjoyed at seeing their children engaging and having fun after what has been an incredibly difficult and isolating time, have been brilliant and touching to witness. I know that it has taken so many people from so many places to make this project possible, and I’ve only met a handful of you, but those I have met have been truly fantastic. It is clear that this project is full of heart.
I’d like to thank Duncan for his enthusiasm, encouragement and compassion in teaching us the Jingah theme and dance. I hope you could hear some of the families singing along in the audience! Bryony’s costuming was so innovative and playful, and her skill and patience in showing us how to make monstrous puppets was truly impressive. Finally, I would like to thank Alison (Denholm, of City Arts) for making it possible for our families to be part of such a brilliant experience. The consideration, facilitation and support you have given to me, the Forum and all our families has been wonderful. I really hope this is the beginning of a long and valuable partnership.
Sarah’s feedback shows how import art and culture is to people’s lives. Experiences like this can inspire children, who might not normally get the chance to be involved in theatre, to become the performers and artists of tomorrow.