The Oliver Music and Drama Project
The Oliver Music and Drama Project provides psycho-social support for Syrian refugee children who either already suffer from PTSD and other post conflict or displacement-related psychological issues, or are at risk from long-term psychological problems as a result of their experiences and situation.
The programme, which has been running for over a year helps teach the children skills, gives them self-confidence, work through trauma, overcome isolation and depression.
We are currently raising funds to expand the project.
The classes are mixed for boys and girls, which helps encourage good gender relations.
OLIVER MUSIC AND DRAMA WORKSHOPS
JANUARY –MARCH 2016
From January March 2016, we ran bilingual Arabic and English music and drama workshops for 40 Syrian and underprivileged Jordanian children in Amman. The project was backed by the British Embassy (Syria), and run by an eight strong local Jordanian and Syrian team, over seen by Edwina Issa, former Head of Drama at several prestigious Jordanian schools and advisor on Educational Drama to the Jordanian government. Four of our local team were also being trained by Edwina during the workshops.
The children learnt to read music, to play the recorder, to sing songs in English, to improvise drama and work their own stories into drama, to act out scenes from Shakespeare in both English and Arabic.
OLIVER! IN ARABIC
MARCH – SEPTEMBER 2015
In September 2015 Refuge Drama Productions Ltd commissioned and produced the first ever Arabic-language adaptation of the hit musical Oliver! with a junior cast of Syrian refugee children and under-privileged Jordanian children.
The project had the support and backing of Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Oxfam and UNICEF. It was directed by the Egyptian film star and human rights activist, Khaled Abol Naga who set it for the first time in a contemporary (unnamed) Arab city. Kal worked with musical director Nayer Nagui, former Artistic Director and Conductor of the Cairo Opera House as well as Disney’s Music Director for dubbing into Arabic, and translated by Zeinab Mobarak (Arabic translator of many Disney films, including Pinnochio, Mulan and The Princess and the Frog). The Egyptian opera singer Elhami check played Fagin.
The dazzling and original production of Oliver! staged with the patronage of Queen Rania of Jordan, in Jordan’s Royal Cultural Centre theatre, was a smash hit, with standing ovations for four nights. The performance was sponsored by Jordanian mobile phone company Umniah, and the insurance company Al Nisr.
In the run up, Refuge trained up six drama and music therapy trainers to work with the children.
We then ran six months of drama and music workshops for between 40 and 100 Syrian and Jordanian kids from underprivileged backgrounds, working towards their participation in this dazzling and original performance of Oliver!
These workshops successfully empowered the kids, building up their self-confidence and creativity, while strengthening community ties between them. Out of these 100 kids we have found some great singers to take the junior roles, while forty more provided the junior chorus and cas, so that all feel that they are all felt included and 'owned' it.
The long term aim is that this methodology of the production and workshop process will be taken to other countries in the Arabic-speaking region to help refugee and underprivileged children around the Middle East and North Africa.
The Oliver! In Arabic documentary, backed by the Niarchos Foundation, is currently in post-production.