Ants Pantz Arts – “Seeking Asylum”
This is Ants Pantz Arts 13th original production since they began in 2002. Social justice for all beings has been common theme in many of our productions such as “Its OK To Complain” for the Disability Services Commissioner and “Animal Rights”.
We’re an all-abilities Drama Troupe of 13 actors and we rehearse at the Colac Neighbourhood House every Thursday 3.00-5.00pm. Cherise Jettner and Lorraine Henkel assist, creatively co-direct, script, stage-manage and support the dynamic Troupe. The team found the “Seeking Asylum” subject very challenging and often scary- a big learning process for all. We had all heard and seen lots of terrible, sad news stories about the “Boat People” on TV, boats sinking, people drowning at Christmas Island, trouble in detention centre’s etc but didn’t know much else.
So we started researching the play via the internet, reading books etc. and watched the fantastic SBS show “Go Back To Where You Came From” We had lots to learn about what is an asylum seeker? What are these wars and conflicts about? What is persecution? Who are ethnic minority groups, Muslims? Refugees? What is a detention centre? The actors chose their own country of origin, their characters and names from all around the world – Africa: Maloomba- Robbie Farquhar, Ahmed- Jeremy Lang and Jusuf-Andrew Jansen
Afghanistan: Reza- Tim Hunt & Ali- Matthew Mackay;
Iran: Zara- Catherine Farrell and “Doc” – Brendan Spencely;
Asia: Mylan- Salina Armistead, Hong- Greg Heinrich & Yi- Bruce Peitsch; England: Cindy-Lorraine Henkel;
America: Tex- James Alsop
Immigration Police & Detention Centre Guard– Cherise Jettner.
We wanted to make the important point that in Australia “boat people” are a small percentage of our “illegal immigrants”. The largest proportion are actually from wealthy counties like England and America and these people fly in on planes, stay unlimited time, have jobs and we hardly ever hear about them! These are the song lyrics, which basically tell the story of the play.
We had no choice we had to flee
It was life or death we saw it all
Dead bodies, friends and family
The fear, the guns, the persecution
Danger, danger no future just execution
We ran away and walked for months
Stayed at camps for a real long time
Still not safe, no hope, no freedom
Children sick, not enough food to eat
Danger, danger no future there
So desperate, we got on a rusty hulk
Better to try for freedoms sake
Bailing out, sick, wet and cold
The open sea, waves awash, some drown
Danger, danger, sinking boats turned back now
Asylum seekers have rights
Given by the United Nations
But if they get near Australia
Danger, danger no safe destination
Danger, danger don’t we care
This multi-media production uses footage of the actors shot at various locations – The boat people on a stormy day at Johanna Beach, The Geelong Goal as the dank Detention Centre, the Illegal Camp at Carlisle River, war scenes used a collage of relevant movies, like Hotel Rwanda. Original music and filming by Cherise Jettner.
You can view videos of parts of their performance on youtube by following the links on their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/antspantz.arts