Languages

Christophe's Story

By Daisy Williams

Let this song forever guide you
Through the world beyond this bay
I will never forget you
Though you will be far away...

Last week, Theatr na nÓg had the honour of working with Llangewydd Junior School’s year 4 classes as they started to look at their theme for this term, which is; ‘Belonging.’ When I heard the word back in December a lot of things ran through my mind; society, home, country…. The concept of belonging is something at once very personal, while also present in wider public debate, particularly at this moment in time.

The focus of this project at Llangewydd School was one pupil, who I’ll call Christophe, and his own connection to the word.

Christophe is 8 years old and lives in Bridgend with his mum, dad and siblings. He loves going to Llangewydd Junior School. His favourite subject is maths, he’s a keen football player, and like most children his age; enjoys his Xbox. He’s a cheeky chap, always has a shy smile on his face. I had the great pleasure one day of walking into his class just as him and his friend were prancing around the room in blonde wigs and big puffy dresses (where they found them, I don’t know).

Of all the year 4 pupils, why tell Christophe’s story? You see Christophe is a refugee. He was born in Syria.

I’m not going to tell you his life story here, but I am going to tell you about the project it inspired, and how Theatr na nÓg supported his friends and classmates in bringing it to life. Over the course of a week we learned about, discussed and dramatised his journey from Syria through Turkey to London, and his arrival in Bridgend. At the end of the week the play was performed to parents and peers.

By telling this story through drama, the children in year 4 were prompted to explore their own relationships with the word ‘Home’. Initially, they started with things like; ‘Xbox’, ‘my annoying mum’ and bizzarely… ‘slime’. As the week progressed, a change in attitude began to emerge. More emotive words began to crop up like; ‘love’, ‘safety’ and ‘family’. I continued to remind them throughout the project to think about their words, about what was important to them so they could start to imagine what it might be like to leave their home, country, Xbox, family, books or clothes behind and travel thousands of miles away to safety.

To devise the play, we began to split Christophe’s story into key sections and improvised the scenes in groups. We learnt songs that we used throughout to help us move from different times and remind us of the message; “Let this song forever guide you, through the world, beyond this bay…” and we even learnt some Arabic and Welsh to include in the lyrics as we saw Christophe travel across the globe.

To end our story the children chose to bring the audience back to the here and now – to how Christophe loves living in Bridgend, enjoys school and being able to play outside – something he was never able to do before, and with everyone welcoming him by singing a Welsh hymn to these lyrics;

Welcome to our home
We hope you like it here
And that you feel safe
While we are near…

Gyda'ch cefnogaeth chi, gallen neud lot mwy.

Helpwch ni i danio dychymyg cenedl

With your support, we can do more.

Help us ignite the imagination of the nation

Mae Theatr na nÓg yn elusen gorfrestredig yng Nghmru a Lloegr
(515903) ac yn gwmni cyfyngedig drwy warrant.
Theatr na nÓg is a charity registered in England and Wales
(515903) and a company limited by guarantee.

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