I Am Here
Queensland Multicultural Centre
September 1 – 3
Often Australian theatre is criticised for its lack of variety. Shows such as “I Am Here” only corroborate the need for cultural diversity to be fostered on stage. “I Am Here” is a courageous and powerful piece of theatre created and performed by six charismatic Brisbane artists from African refugee backgrounds. Not so long ago, they were all children of conflict, fleeing for refuge from the chaos of civil war, after, in some instances, watching their families murdered. These are the stories they share – accounts of struggle, survival and new beginnings, merged with haunting live tunes and dance.
The result is harrowing and heartbreaking theatre, the moving honesty of which brought audience members repeatedly to tears. Distinct stories are woven through each other to visualise the pivotal moments that suddenly changed the lives of the children – the violent Rwandan massacre, the collapse of the Democratic Republic of Congo and life in a Ugandan refugee camp where some children live their whole lives. But despite the confronting subject matter, the show is about more than just this, with one of the most provoking scenes recreating the interview process for refugees to enter Australia. Indeed, it is a privilege to be able to appreciate the extent of their gratitude for the safely of life in this country.
“I Am Here” is an emotional event, yet, among the stories of struggle and survival are moments of joy and comic catharsis, such as when we see parents interrogating their daughter’s love interest as to his intentions. This not only provides some relief from the tension of the stories’ truth, but shows how some situations transcend traditional boundaries, for we are all humans; refugee is just another word for human being, albeit one with some grim wounds. This shared humanity was realised in the sincerity of simple lines like “I miss my friends”.
“I Am Here” is a unique, unforgettable and life-affirming celebration of the human spirit, and one which will remain with you long afterwards. Not only does it actively encourage diversity in our drama, but it conveys a clear, essential message – we are all here and we are more than the sum of our pasts.