The Blue Box: Memories Of The Children of War

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As a theatrical company, our primary goal is to promote cross-cultural collaboration and education within the community.

The theatre has always been at the forefront of humanitarianism. We provide communities with productions that reflect reality. In 2016, this could not be more clearly stated that with our original bilingual English-Arabic production, The Blue Box: Memories Of The Children Of War, based on the book by Emma Abdullah.

The Memories Of The Children of War

IMG_20160427_133406
‘There was a beautiful village… once upon a time. Then the game started. I don’t want to play anymore.’ Youth Actress Salma Farghali (aged 6) with ensemble during the destruction of the village (Photo by Yousef Al Nasser)

Our production begins in a beautiful village which soon becomes a battlefield. Through the stories found in a mysterious blue box, the children of the village tell their own stories and how ‘this game’ has begun to change and impact on their young lives.

Our message for producing this production is a simple one: we ask that our audiences stop and face, for a moment, the individual realities of children affected by war. The setting is a universal one. The stories are familiar. Yet by taking away the newspapers and reporters, the television screen and the photographs and simply presenting their stories live on stage, we bring the conflict from the media to the hearts of the audience and ask them the question: Is this the reality we want for our children?

Presented in English and Arabic by a multicultural, multi-faith cast of different ages and nationalities.

The Beginning 

12122398_1146073845417560_4670006925323645783_n
The original ‘Blue Box’ poster, November 2015

Teenage Authoress Emma Abdullah was 12 when she began writing stories about life in war-torn Syria and those that had lived through it. Over the years, she collected these stories until she self-published her book The Blue Box on Amazon to raise awareness for the people of Syria and the conditions they were living through. To date, she has raised over $70,000 for charity.

When Alison Shan Price, CEO and Founder of One World Actors Centre, read The Blue Box, she knew that it needed to be turned into a stage production to assist in this humanitarian cause. This led to the creation of the English-Arabic production The Blue Box, which initially premiered in Kuwait in November 2015 at the Dar Noor under the patronage of HRH Sheikhas Paula and Yasmine Al Sabah.

From Dar Noor to the International Stage

IMG-20160425-WA0007
The National Premiere Poster 2016, featuring One World Actors and Youth Actress Sara Al Saleh (Aged 7) who plays the immigrant Reema alongside Brian McLaughlin as her father

The short production was met with a standing ovation and the invitation to perform at Kuwait’s Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah under the auspice of the National Council of Arts, Culture and Letters. It was at this time the decision was made to also take the production to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016. After the success of Antigone: An Arabian Tragedy in the development of cultural awareness at the Fringe, it was obvious that this bilingual message would have a greater impact to the international audiences that the Fringe attracted.

Arabic lyrics and script, by war consultant Dr. Diana Sfeir (Antigone) and original composition and score by Musical Director, Harriet Petherick Bushman (The Little Prince, Dream Dealer, Gideon) were created  as Alison adapted six of the stories from the book for stage, linking characters, including an additional new story by Emma, within a framework of life in a village. The script included additional scenes with current references to the plight of war children around the world. The production was re-titled The Blue Box: Memories Of The Children of War. Now a full show, parts were changed, additional singers and actors added and individual characters developed with linking story-lines including The Teacher, Hanan, created by Eleni Price (Antigone) who based her character script on interviews with teachers holding broken schools and children together, and Abu Yousef, the beloved old man who knew all the stories of the village, which were placed in his blue box, created by international Kuwaiti actor Ali al Nasser (Arabs Got Talent, Antigone).  The cast of 30 included experienced international actors from the GCC, Great Britain, America, Barbados, Europe, Australia, the Phillipines and India, with Youth Actors aged 7-12 residing in Kuwait. DeAnne Davis-Production Management, Erik Davis- Technical Director, D Design, Media Sponsor CEE Kuwait and international award winning designer Abdalah al Awadhi, who created the stunning blue-grey costumes, completed the team.

 

IMG_20160426_141406
‘They were only playing hide and seek’: The Aftermath of the Landmine

The premiere received standing ovations in its two-day run at the DAI Yarmouk Cultural Centre and was attended by members of the Kuwait Royal Family, Ambassadors , VIPS and the public

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016

Travelling to any country to perform is daunting but to the World’s  largest Arts Festival of over 3250 productions and international reviewers it can be petrifying.  But with our  International Festival Coordinator and Producer Eleni Price at the helm the most intricate detail from plane arrivals to lodgings and advertising was in place.

cropped-edinburgh-festival-fringe-dir-alison-shan-price_wm_wm.jpg
Noor al Huneidi as The Daughter, Leila, of Diana Sfeir’s The Mother

Our show was now a third version, for adapted for an international audience; edgier, more brutal, more current as we heard of daily events happening and quickly incorporated them into our show, harrowing and yet still retaining the hope of childhood. UN Award winning photographer Islam Mardin, in Aleppo, gave us daily social updates and his stunning photographs for our backdrops, sent over 20 hours from under the stairs during severe bombing. Monologues had been divided into group scenes, actors  changed as visa requirements, sadly, forbade certain actors entry to UK, more songs had been added. Syrian- Lebanese actress Nour Bizri (Antigone) arrived from Paris to play the role of The Bride and War medic Dr Frank Cannizzo arrived from USA to take the role of The Doctor a updating his script daily to include his experiences and those current.  At the end of each full show the cast knelt in respect for the fallen. Every audience member cried.Emma’s parting speech in a bright blue Arabic robe left them in deep thought. We were asked continually  by adults after the show why the ‘untying of Nada’ could not have lead to her freedom as they all hoped it would. All we could say was  ‘there is no happy ending’

Through all ticket and book sales 4000 GBP was raised for UNICEF

This journey has just begun.

THE CAST OF THE BLUE BOX: November 2015-2016

All Productions: Dr Diana Sfeir, Hamad al Jenaie, Haley Davis, Omar Siraj, Noor Huneidi, Lama al Ibrahim, Sara al Ghanim, Sara al Saleh, Alexandra Cimpian, DeAnne Davis (Technical Director in UK)   DAI  Cultural Centre /UK:  Ali al Nasser, Eleni Price ( International Festival Producer in UK), India Culverhouse, Kai Culverhouse.   Dar Noor/DAI:  Brian McLaughlin, Jumel Carvajal, Olwyn McCollin, Salma Fargali.  UK (only): Dr Frank Cannizzo, Nour Bizri, Kane Gorman, Stacey Fitzpatrick, Hannah Cannizzo, Domnica Cimpian ( Technicals),  Rana al Khalid (Musician) DAI Cultural Centre (only): Yousef al Nasser, Nour Zok, Angel Artienza, Peter Carvajal, Lemogene Tucker, Joanna Slayton, Basil Arabi, Mona Romana, Gaurav Pant, Erik Davis(TD) Dar Noor (only): Dr Joyce Mordecai , Nader Abdullah, Boris Miyhalov,   Helen Newton (Musician), Simon Abi Faisal (TD)

 

received_635441046632774
Nada (Sarah al Ghanim) at the end of the play: Crystalize it into my mind so I wont feel afraid of dying ( Harriet Bushman’s Dreaming of Peace)

We would not be able to bring The Blue Box: Memories Of The Children of War to the world without the generous sponsorship of:

Alghamin Industries (Platinum)

Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyyah (White Gold)

JAMM Art Advisory (Gold)

Al Abjar Holdings (Bronze)

CEE Kuwait (Media)

Bayt Lothan Cultural Centre (Pearl)

TAQA Productions (Pearl)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Testimonials about The Blue Box: Memories Of The Children of War 

‘I attended the deeply moving performance of Emma Abdullah’s The Blue Box by Alison Shan Price and One World Actors Centre at the Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyah in Yarmouk Kuwait last night. As a father, a diplomat and a human being, I could not help but be moved by the stories and perspectives of innocent children caught up in conflict and violence.’

Mathew Lodge

HM Ambassador to Kuwait

‘Touching on the very fabric of our society. We question ourselves. Have we done enough? Can we do more? The innocence of youth as Emma wrote in her Blue Box stories, is very vividly played out every day by thousands of children affected by war or conflict. A compelling read and heart wrenching watching One World Actors Centre’s stage adaptation . Truly inspirational.

Ian Harbour

British Army, currently deployed in Kuwait

The Blue Box: Children of War. Memories or Reality?

Each scene showed us the misery of war and the representation of motherhood through love and fear was the element that made us realize what a war is . The children were remarkable and emotionally brave and as the representation of the reality of those kids who are innocent want to play but war is taking away all about childhood.