Next week is Refugee Week (20 – 26 June), a UK-wide festival celebrating refugees’ contributions, creativity, resilience. The week aims to help people from different backgrounds connect beyond labels and encourage understanding of why people are displaced and their challenges when seeking safety.
As a Theatre of Sanctuary, we are announcing two free events to mark Refugee Week 2022 at our Playhouse venue. These will include the arts project A Mile in my Shoes on 25 June, and the film Thank You for the Rain on 21 June.
Theatre of Sanctuary is an accolade that recognises the steps taken by theatres to ensure refugees and those seeking sanctuary in the city feel included, valued and celebrated through increased accessibility to the arts.
For the first time, Norwich Theatre Playhouse will play host to the acclaimed A Mile in My Shoes installation, created by the Empathy Museum, an organisation dedicated to helping people see the world through another’s eyes. During the interactive experience, visitors to Norwich Theatre Playhouse can borrow a pair of shoes belonging to a refugee or migrant and walk whilst listening to a first-hand story of their life.
Explore a collection of stories by storytellers who have come to the UK from different places worldwide. From a Syrian refugee to a Somalian boxer, a war veteran to a neurosurgeon, the storytellers cover all aspects of life, from loss and grief to hope and love, as you literally walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
The film screening of the feature-length documentary Thank you for the Rain is a poignant film about the resilience on the frontlines of climate change. The film is centred around a Kenyan farmer, Kisilu Musya, who used his camera to document the effects of extreme weather on his farm, family and community over five years. His message of climate change sees Kislu transform from community leader and farmer to activist on a global stage.
Sam Patel, Head of Creative Engagement at Norwich Theatre, said:
“As a Theatre of Sanctuary, we believe that creativity and creative spaces play a vital role in bringing people together, building understanding and stemming the tide of division. Norwich has a well-earned reputation as a City of Sanctuary. This was first articulated in 1567 as it was described as a city that embraced ‘Strangers’ who were originally refugees from the Low Countries fleeing persecution in their own lands. Hundreds of years later, the message has not changed.”
“We can’t wait to bring A Mile in My Shoes to Norwich for the very first time. The installation turns a concept of empathy into something tangible, allowing the participant to connect with other people’s experiences. Connecting people and building empathy. We hope all our free events will provide the opportunity to debate current issues and strengthen Norwich’s well-earned reputation as a City of Sanctuary.”
Gee Cook, CEO at New Routes, said:
“We are thrilled to have worked with Norwich Theatre to bring the Empathy Museum’s impactful A Mile in My Shoes installation to Norwich city centre for this year’s Norwich Refugee Week. We hope that the opportunity to hear individuals’ migration stories first-hand will prompt new audiences to reflect on the refugee experience and strengthen Norwich’s well-earned reputation as a welcoming new home for people fleeing war and persecution.”
Clare Patey, Director at Empathy Museum, said:
“We’re delighted to have A Mile in My Shoes in Norwich and to be taking part in the city’s Refugee Week celebrations. We’ll be bringing stories from all sorts of people who arrived in the UK as migrants, refugees, or asylum-seekers, and who kindly shared their lives with us. At a time when empathy is a principal element in the debate around immigration policies, we invite anyone and everyone to take an imaginative leap into the shoes of a stranger whose life started elsewhere.”