Stark realities of asylum system in Ireland highlighted in new drama

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New drama: Julie Maxwell and Raquel McKee in Lives in Translation – Photography Jim Corr

Laying bare the realities of the asylum process in Ireland, Lives in Translation is a hard-hitting new play based on interviews with female Somali asylum seekers which is touring venues across Northern Ireland this March.

Written by Rosemary Jenkinson the play is based on and inspired by the very real experiences and stories of women who have first-hand experienced the asylum industry in Ireland, some being trapped within the system for years.

The show tells the story of one woman, Asha, who in fleeing the conflict of her home becomes trapped in a new struggle. This time with the suffocating bureaucracy of the asylum system. It follows her ten-year journey through Mogadishu and Dublin, Belfast and London as she fights for a place to make home and a life free from fear.

Directed by Paula McFetridge, performed by Tony Flynn, Julie Maxwell and Raquel McKee and featuring original music by Dónal O’Connor and video art by Conan McIvor; the drama explores how recent asylum seekers must navigate support systems through translation, how disempowering and frustrating this system can be, and ultimately how time is controlled most by those it affects least.

Paula McFetridge, Artistic Director of Kabosh, said: “Kabosh is dedicated to giving voice to the people in our community whose stories most need to be heard. Those individuals going through the asylum and refugee process need to be represented in our shared culture and community. We aim to foster an understanding of the struggles endured and encourage informed debate. Theatre is a powerful tool for sharing perspectives collectively, the impact of which is felt long after the audience has left the space”

Rosemary Jenkinson, playwright, added: “Two years ago, I was shocked to read in the papers about a refugee who felt so let down by government agencies that he set himself on fire outside Belfast City Hall to draw attention to his plight. The refugee crisis is clearly the urgent political story of our time. To write Lives in Translation I interviewed asylum seekers living in Belfast to learn the truth about their lives, from why they had to leave their countries through to the complexities of trying to claim asylum within the UK and Ireland”

Gilly Campbell, Arts Council NI Development Officer for Drama and Dance, said: “Lives in Translation is a powerful, challenging drama which reflects the times we live in and demonstrates the value of the arts in stimulating discussion around difficult social issues. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is pleased to support Kabosh with this new production and I would encourage everyone to go along.”

Following it’s sold out premiere at the Belfast International Arts Festival in 2017, Kabosh is delighted to be touring the show to venues across Northern Ireland including Lyric Theatre Belfast, March 7; Market Place Armagh, March 9; Playhouse Derry, March 10; and Roe Valley Arts Centre, Limavady, March 13.

Full details available at


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