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Holocaust Memorial Day performance from Skimstone Arts

Published: 19 January 2019

Newcastle’s Skimstone Arts announces a new performance for Holocaust Memorial Day inspired by stories of refugees and Holocaust survivors.

Skimstone Arts, which is based in Commercial Union House in Newcastle, creates collaborative theatre, music and art with artists and researchers and this new production, Peace Process-ion2, uses the stories of refugees and the children of Holocaust survivors who have settled in Newcastle, exploring stories of human acts of kindness, bravery and resilience.

“We’ve collected stories from people who are members of Bosnian, Syrian and Roma refugee communities and who are now living here in the North East,” explained Claire Webster Saaremets, Artistic Director of Skimstone Arts. “We also listened to some people whose parents were Holocaust survivors and the courage, bravery, honesty and resilience of each person sharing their experience sharing was a privilege to hear.

“Their stories are still so relevant to today and they give an insight into how the human spirit can still continue to be alive in times of madness.”

Stories include that of Smajo, who came to the North East from Bosnia aged 9 and attended Chillingham Road Primary School in Heaton, Newcastle, and is now in his early thirties, studying for a PhD in Architecture at Newcastle University, and of Balsam from Syria, who shared stories of what it was like to see her homeland ravaged and people she loved displaced by war.

"I am now at a very difficult point in my life,” she says. “Should I try and go home? The boys are settled here. But I am maybe torn again. There are no answers. I still live in those uncertain places. But I am still one of the lucky ones.”

Marta Josephs, formerly from Hungary, talked about her father Andrew Frankel, a Holocaust survivor.

“I remember my mother saying that she always wanted to have plenty of food on the table because she never wanted my father to go without food again. So I knew that he had been starved.”

The company has been working with a diverse, professional and international cast of performers, dancers and up-and-coming young Romanian musicians to create live music, soundtracks, theatre and procession, inviting people to stop and look and reflect on these experiences of finding identities, connections and hope in a new land and place.

Each story has been used to help shape the performance, which takes place on Wednesday 30 January at Newcastle City Library between 12PM and 3PM and then at Newcastle Civic Centre Red Carpet between 5PM and 6:30PM. Peace Process-ion2 lasts for 20 minutes and will be performed on a rolling basis.

Admission is free and no booking is required.

Peter Lathan