Asylum seekers in Asia

Students turn plight of refugees in Hong Kong into hard-hitting play

Performers had one week to meet the 10 asylum seekers, learn their stories and turn those experiences into a script

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 6:37pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 6:48pm

Ten refugees in Hong Kong will have their stories told and performed by students of the Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong at the Arts Centre on Saturday night.

A Refugee Story, based on real-life accounts and experiences, aimed at “amplifying the voices” of refugees living in the city, the play’s director Steve Reynolds said.

“At the same time, it is an education for my students. At the start of the week, some had stereotypical views of what the refugees were,” he said.

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“It was a quite sharp learning curve. We hope that being the United World College they take their learning out and become leaders for a number of social issues, including refugees.”

Performers had less than a week to work on the project, first meeting the refugees on Monday.

“Then, on Tuesday, the refugees came to the college and we paired one student with a refugee,” Reynolds explained.

“I prepared the students to interview the refugees about their lives. They recorded all the information and we turned it into a monologue, a one-person script.”

Many of those interviewed and whose stories are now part of the play are political refugees. “Most of them had very good jobs, they were very well qualified,” Reynolds said.

The asylum seekers have another thing in common – they have spent years in limbo in Hong Kong waiting to have their cases screened and eventually recognised by the government.

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Reynolds said the theme was chosen because the local and global situation for refugees had not improved over the years.

The United Nations Refugees Agency 2016 Global Trends report showed that 65.3 million people were displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution in 2015.

As of December, there were 9,981 asylum seekers in Hong Kong waiting for their claims to be screened. If their applications are accepted, they will be referred to the UN for resettlement in a third country.

The performance, which was the outcome of a student project with the Christian Action Centre for Refugees, will be staged again on Friday at 7.30pm at the college in Wu Kai Sha. All proceeds will go to the non-profit organisation.