Socialist Worker

Refuge in friendship

by Mark Brown
Issue No. 1818

The experience of refugees in British society has given rise to a number of plays in recent years. One of the best has been John Retallack's Hannah and Hanna, which is about to go on an extensive tour. Set in Margate, on the Kent coast, it follows the relationship between two teenage girls - one from the town itself, the other a refugee from Kosovo.

At first the young Englishwoman is hostile to asylum seekers, but her friendship with her namesake from the Balkans soon brings her into conflict with the anti-refugee bigotry of many newspapers, politicians and Margate street thugs.

The drama is intended for people of all ages, but aims to engage young people in particular. It does so with a brilliant clarity and a real understanding of the types of experience which break down barriers between teenagers.

Retallack's skill at dealing with this subject has grown out of his personal commitment to the rights of asylum seekers.

When Hannah and Hanna won an award at last year's Edinburgh Festival, he chose to join the Sighthill United demonstration of refugees and local residents in Glasgow rather than collect it. Every teacher of children over the age of ten should try to get their pupils booked in to see the play.

The tour details are:

Glasgow 24-28 September, Tron-phone 0141 552 4267.
Manchester 30 September-5 October, Contact Theatre-phone 0161 274 0600.
Barnet, London 19 October, Bull-phone 020 8449 0048.
Nottinghamshire 21-25 October, various venues-phone 0115 941 9419.
Birmingham 11-13 November, various venues-phone 0121 747 6226.
Oxford 14-16 November, Pegasus Theatre-phone 01865 722 851.

The play also tours elsewhere in Britain.

For further information on venues phone Arts UK on 01905 26424.

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Article information

Sat 21 Sep 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1818
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