British Red Cross dramatises refugee work with visitor experience

The British Red Cross is drawing attention to its work over the past 150 years with an immersive theatre experience that puts visitors in the shoes of refugees.

Theatrical experience dramatises 150 years of the Red Cross
Theatrical experience dramatises 150 years of the Red Cross

Seeking Sanctuary has been produced by Mahogany Media Group and Emergency Exit Arts. The free experience takes place on 15 and 16 November at The Vaults beneath London's Waterloo station tunnels.

The audience is invited to spend an hour in the shoes of the displaced and follow a multi-sensory journey tracking the challenges of nine refugees as they are forced from their homes.

Each audience member’s journey is unique and dependent on the identification papers they receive and whether or not they ‘pass’ medical, immigration or border control checkpoints.

Stories recreated include a portrayal of Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world and home to 900,000 Somali refugees. Groups of 20 at a time will be immersed in the camp, smelling spices from Somali recipes as refugees share their stories and teach traditional Somali dance.

Refugee stories range from the 1950s to the present day covering the Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Bosnia, Syria, Rwanda, Vietnam and Uganda. Almost every artist and actor involved is from a refugee community.

The event culminates in a photography and multimedia exhibition, bringing the experience right up to present day, featuring portrayals of UK-based Syrian refugees. It is curated by Sunday Times photojournalist Paul Conroy, who covered the Syrian crisis in 2012 and has photographed UK refugees for the exhibition.

The exhibition is due to tour the rest of the UK in 2014.

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