For most individuals, mattress is a spot of consolation, someplace to recline and swap off. For others, it’s a scene of displacement, an emblem of the precariousness of life.
For eight months, Syed Haleem Najibi moved from mattress to mattress. The now 23-year-old fled Afghanistan as an unaccompanied minor in 2012, making his approach via Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy and France, earlier than lastly arriving within the UK.
“I used to be held in a detention centre in Greece for 5 months. There have been 70 of us in a room. There wasn’t sufficient area to take a seat down, not to mention sleep, so folks would stand across the corners of the room and make an area for others to sleep in.”
Najibi is one in every of seven performers in a brand new play, All of the Beds I Have Slept In, produced by Phosphoros Theatre, a charity that works solely with refugee actors aged 18-25, all of whom got here to the UK as unaccompanied minors.
The play, which is touring venues throughout England this autumn, makes use of beds to replicate on numerous factors of the actors’ pressured migration journeys. It features a “charpai on my roof in Afghanistan” and “beneath a bridge in Liverpool Road”.
Najibi, who heard about Phosphoros in a housing undertaking, is likely one of the charity’s trustees and co-leader of its new younger firm for over-14s.
“It gave me the chance to share my experiences,” he mentioned. “Not having sufficient meals, not having a correct bathroom. It was onerous, particularly once you’re underage. If you arrive within the UK you don’t realise it’s just the start of one other journey. You’re in a brand new world, adapting to the situations and the life-style.”
Phosphoros’s co-artistic director, Kate Duffy-Syedi, mentioned the expertise of refugees was particularly prescient after latest occasions in Afghanistan.
“The asylum system within the UK has grow to be an increasing number of brutal,” she mentioned. “Hostility is written into coverage. However in actuality the care and solidarity throughout the refugee neighborhood is gigantic. That’s the story we needed to inform.”
Drama was identified to spice up confidence, teamwork and communication, she added. “It could possibly assist discover emotions of trauma, and assist us take into consideration our lives in another way.”
Duffy-Syedi began the corporate with two different girls – Daybreak Harrison and Rosanna Jahangard – in 2015, “which was coincidentally the time that refugee narratives grew to become a degree of debate after the Syrian disaster. We noticed the curiosity go massively up after which slowly trickle away. However as soon as once more we’re seeing that degree of concern.” At present, the opposite creative administrators are Harrison and Juliet Kinds.
Mardin Mahmoudpour, 18, not too long ago got here to the UK from Kurdistan. “Once I arrived I used to be in a really dangerous state of affairs. After my lengthy journey and with solely primary English I felt like I used to be the loneliest particular person on the planet. Lockdown solely made it worse,” he mentioned.
So when Mahmoudpour encountered Phosphoros, he enrolled instantly. “They grew to become my mates and slowly I felt much less alone. Refugees and asylum seekers don’t have a loud voice. So at Phosphoros theatre, we attempt to be their voice in the one approach we are able to, which is performing. Collectively we grow to be loud.”
The actors mentioned one of many issues they took biggest pleasure in was audiences’ reactions. “Folks have modified their careers,” Najibi mentioned. “A trainer, after seeing our present, began to work with a charity that helps refugees in Calais and the UK. It does have an impact. It modifications mindsets.”