West Yorkshire Playhouse became the first Theatre of Sanctuary in 2014. The journey to recognition and a public commitment to being a place of safety, hospitality and support for refugees and asylum seekers began with the production of Refugee Boy and the theatre’s efforts to reach out and engage the community with a better understanding of the refugee experience. All staff have had training, and new projects include a singing group for refugee women Asmarina Voices, workshops in Public Speaking and Presentation Skills for refugees and asylum seekers and free tickets for Playhouse productions to refugees and asylum seekers. Refugee Boy enjoyed a wide tour in the UK and the theatre has produced a schools resource pack to support schools work around the play and the novel by Benjamin Zephaniah. Yorkshire Playhouse has continued to engage with local refugees and raise refugee support issues. For example The Playhouse was one of 20 theatres urging the Immigration Minister to speed up the process for vulnerable young people (who are legally entitled to join their families in the UK) living at the Calais refugee camp in 2016.
Other theatres include The Young Vic – with their fantastic work with refugees and the Horizons project. David Lan, the Artistic Director received the award and said, “Theatres are places where strangers come together in peace. While the world feels chaotic, the Young Vic is happy to welcome people who need a home they didn’t know they had”
Now theatres from Derby, Nottingham, Coventry, Manchester and Norwich are working towards the award to further inspire others to commit to the Sanctuary vision of welcome and inclusion.
SBC (Stand up and Be Counted) became the first Theatre Company of Sanctuary after their work around detention which engaged an asylum seeker in research and then gave her the lead part in heir play “Tanya”.
Here is a Theatre of Sanctuary Power Point Presentation which was used at a meeting in Manchester.