Audiences sign hundreds of letters to Home Secretary after Theatre of Witness Production

Posted on: 22nd October 2013

"Moved to the depths of my being..." "...quietly spoken and yet hit home so powerfully"

The Playhouse Derry-Londonderry- 17-19 October 2013
Northern Ireland Tour- 22 October - 9 November 2013

Over 700 letters of support were signed over the weekend by audience members moved by the story of three asylum seekers currently taking part in The Playhouse Theatre of Witness production, ‘Sanctuary'.

The production, which opened last week at The Playhouse and is currently on tour in Northern Ireland, is performed by refugee and asylum seekers, as well as those born in NI who have offered or had to seek refuge following violence, institutional abuse, forced exile, poverty and sectarianism.

Following the show's premiere on Thursday night, hundreds of audience members signed letters of support to Home Secretary Theresa May MP, on behalf of performers Maryama Sheekh Yuusuf- a refugee from the war in Somalia- and Everson Taelo and Loyd Ncube, both from Zimbabwee.

The performers who share their own true stories also include a woman from Northern Ireland who suffered institutional abuse in an orphanage, a woman who grew up as a victim of sectarian violence in Belfast, and the manager of an organization that serves refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and those who are homeless.

Scripted and directed by Teya Sepinuck, with original music by Brian Irvine, puppetry by Aja Marneweck and film sequences by Declan Keeney, ‘Sanctuary' will now tour Northern Ireland following its Playhouse run.

Theatre of Witness is a unique form of performance created by its founder and artistic director, Teya Sepinuck, in which the stories of those who haven't been heard in society are performed by the storytellers themselves. The performances are created and performed by the people who have directly experienced the issues being explored, putting a face and a heart to societal issues of suffering and transformation.

"We're delighted through this production to highlight the plight of people living as refugee and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland and create a strong call to action on their behalf" Theatre of Witness project co-ordinator Emma Stuart said.

"We're supplied letters to the Home Secretary for audience members to sign, should they wish to do so, at every performance on the tour, and hope to have thousands by the end of the production. Those wishing to find out more information can email me on"

‘Sanctuary' is The Playhouse's fourth original Theatre of Witness production supported by the European Union's PEACE III Programme, managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by the Community Relations Council/Pobal Consortium.

It follows on the success tours of ‘We Carried Your Secrets' (2009), ‘I Once Knew a Girl' (2010), and ‘Release' (2012). Films of each of the productions have been created, with Margo Harkins award winning ‘The Far Side of Revenge' (based on ‘I Once Knew a Girl') that will be broadcast on BBC NI this fall. Declan Keeney's ‘Release' premiered September 9.

‘Sanctuary' will return to The Waterside Theatre on Friday 1st November at 8pm and will also host two intimate lunch time sessions in The First Presbyterian Church Hall at 12 noon on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th November. During these lunch-time session lunch will be provided, seating is limited so booking is essential. To book your ticket contact the Box office on 028 7126 8027. The production will then tour to the Corrymeela Centre, Ballycastle. Tickets are free. For more information on other tour dates or to book CLICK HERE.


Audience reflections

"Thank you for the program and also for giving us the chance to sign letters on behalf of the asylum seekers. Their stories and presence was so powerful and moving. You opened hearts."

"‘Moved to the depths of my being.' I wish there were my own words to use - felt they were the most powerful to describe this deeply touching, powerful experience. How do we measure our pain? Thank God for hope."

"Such beautiful portrayal of life, love, sadness, pain and hope - quietly spoken and yet hit home so powerfully"

"Genius and human dignity at work"

"What incredible stories, so well told! What courage! Thank you for reminding us again of the many social injustices in our world and of the importance of lending our support to these necessary campaigns - eg asylum."



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