A theatrical work that explores the journeys of four young migrants who leave their worlds behind to seek a fresh beginning will be streamed online by The Arts Centre at NYU Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Entitled Cartography, the theatrical work – which was initially performed in February – will be streamed on the Facebook page of The Arts Centre on Friday, June 19, to mark World Refugee Day. The event is held in partnership with the UNHCR.
Cartography is the creation of director Kaneza Schaal and writer Christopher Myers. The play draws upon the pair's experience in 2016, when they spent one month in Munich with a group of asylum seekers.
The refugees the pair spoke to were between 9 and 17 years old. They had travelled to Europe from Syria, Mali, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Iraq and Nigeria, traversing forests and the Mediterranean, encountering people smugglers and border authorities.
The challenges the young refugees described as they travelled to reach their new homes, and their desire to remain visible and connected, set the foundation of the work.
The performance also incorporates the personal displacement histories of its actors, who hail from Syria, El Salvador, Lebanon and Rwanda.
Using sound sensors and map-making tools, the show integrates technology, performance and sculpture to create a memorable audio and visual journey. The visual elements of the performance were developed in part by graduates from NYU Abu Dhabi’s Interactive Media Program in June 2018.
"Cartography is a project that is very close to our hearts," Bill Bragin, Executive Artistic Director of The Arts Centre at NYUAD, said in a statement.
“The Arts Centre came on board as co-commissioners as soon as we heard about Schaal and Myers’ goal to create a theatre piece speaking to the migration experiences of young asylum seekers.”
Bragin said opening conversations about urgent social issues through the arts was a central part of the Arts Centre’s mission.
"The opportunity to participate in World Refugee Day in partnership with UNHCR means that the impact of the work can be amplified even further, helping the message of Cartography to reach even broader audiences."
Nadia Jbour, Head of UNHCR Office in the UAE, will join the show’s creators in a live Q&A session moderated by Linsey Bostwick, Director of Artistic Planning at The Arts Centre, following the performance.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how vulnerable we are, UNHCR calls upon global solidarity with those who were forced to flee their homes, and reminds the world that ‘everyone can make a difference’ and ‘every action counts’,” Jbour said in a statement.