TOUGH TIMES: The raw pain suffered by child refugees is revealed on the big screen in the film Cast from the Storm, showing at the Regent Cinema on Friday.
TOUGH TIMES: The raw pain suffered by child refugees is revealed on the big screen in the film Cast from the Storm, showing at the Regent Cinema on Friday. Contributed

Children of war recall horror in gripping film

DO YOU freak out if you lose your smart phone? Imagine losing everything: your clothes, house, family, friends, country and language.

Imagine being 10 years old and having to leave home in the middle of the night, after your father has been shot in front of you. Then going on a terrifying, dangerous journey by road and boat, ending up in a detention camp in Australia.

When you finally make it to a strange, new life in Sydney, you are tormented by nightmares and flashbacks. You are adrift, traumatised and disoriented. And still, you are only 10 years old.

Enter Treehouse Theatre, a drama therapy group for recently settled refugees at Miller High School in western Sydney.

At Treehouse Theatre, teenage survivors from war, bombings and persecution in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Serbia meet after school to share their incredible personal experiences, and workshop them into a play. The stories that emerge are shocking and terrifying.

As the children confront their darkest memories, a powerful transformation begins. They slowly and painfully come out of their shell. They break down, cry, argue and make up.

They gradually develop a 90-minute play which they will ultimately perform at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre before audiences of 300.

Cast from the Storm follows the children and teachers from the hesitant first steps through the cathartic workshops and on to the final performance.

The group faces the prospect of a disaster on opening night due to poor rehearsal attendance and student misbehaviour. Nevertheless the curtain will be raised and they must forge ahead.

There is more at stake than an evening of gripping theatre; for some children, this will be the performance of their lives.

The play is performed as 25 individual stories, organised into three sections. The fun stories are about childhood pranks, getting lost or into trouble. The trauma stories relive what made them refugees: terror attacks, cross-fire escapes, bomb attacks or missile strikes.

The recovery and resettlement stories recount the relief, happiness and fun of resettlement.

Each story is stand-alone. For psychological safety, the performers do not play themselves in the trauma stories. They usually narrate while others perform.

The audience follows the refugee experience through these stories, on an emotional roller coaster. Cast from the Storm is a raw, intimate insight into this turbulent, deeply moving journey.

  • Cast from the Storm is a fundraiser for the Uki Refugee Project. Also showing is a film by Uki locals Bryan and Heather McClelland about their work helping women in Bangladesh fight their way out of poverty. Four Bangladeshi women tell their stories in this powerful 25-minute documentary edited by Suellen Baker.

Cost: $15. Includes a light supper after, a chance to hear from the local filmmakers, and an art exhibit by Heather McClelland.

Cast from the Storm

What: Film about refugee children, fundraiser for Uki Refugee Project

Where: Regent Cinema, Murwillumbah

When: Friday, November 10, 7pm

Cost: $15, includes light supper



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