Refugee Stories Brief intro (Pat’s words) The inspiration behind the Opera Kia Ora Khalid
National Theatre for Children
Creative Technology
Kia Ora Khalid
Refugee Stories
Refugee Stories
Refugee Stories Online Resource   Wiki and VoiceThread
Kia Ora Khalid The Opera
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Stephen Aitken - Refugee Stories –The inspiration behind the Opera Kia Ora Khalid


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In early 2007, Composer Gareth Farr and Writer Dave Armstrong were commissioned to write a musical theatre experience for children aged 8 years and up. The piece was planned for presentation at the Capital E National Arts Festival in March 2009, and the brief was to examine New Zealand society -70 years on from the outbreak of WW II. The piece evolved into an exploration of the influence of the world’s diasporas on New Zealand through the eyes of their children. The writer along with the director, Sara Brodie, undertook research by meeting with those who are or had been children recently arrived in New Zealand, listening to their journeys, the issues they encountered and may continue to face. These stories, from World War II Polish orphans through to children interned on the Tampa and held on Nauru, provided the inspiration and much of the content of the eventual Opera, Kia Ora Khalid.

Originally recorded for use in development of the script and music, the interview footage provides a meaningful and powerful insight into the lives of new, young New Zealanders. Capital E’s Creative Technology team collated the footage and developed a digital installation to accompany the performance. They also developed a Wikispaces site where the footage could be viewed and more stories added through the use of VoiceThread. Issues relating to privacy and children’s rights were solved through sensitive liaison with all stakeholders. The Opera has had successful seasons both in Wellington and Auckland, attracting a far wider audience than the original brief. The collection of digital stories, through the physical installation and living, growing wiki, have been very well received and continue to provide sharing opportunities and insight into this enveloping aspect of our national identity.

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  • Along with other Wellington Museums Trust institutions, Capital E exemplifies what makes Wellington a unique city of diverse visitor attractions and the arts and cultural destination for New Zealanders and many international visitors.
  • Capital E’s contribution to the city’s standing as Cultural Capital is that it reflects and enhances those special Wellington qualities of creativity and innovation by making new theatrical works that speak of our place in the world . These works tour nationally and internationally to over 50,000 patrons per annum through the National Theatre for Children. The National Theatre for Children has grown to a company producing touring performances from one end of this country to the other, regularly playing annually in over 30 centres as well as Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and last year in Singapore.
  • Capital E also runs programmes that make technology an exciting and accessible medium through which young people can express their creativity. The OnTV Studio, and SoundHouse TM New Zealand digital technology suite and the centre’s events programme links to community, cultural partners, and Wellington’s creative industries helping to develop outstanding creative opportunities for Wellington’s young people.
  • Kia ora Khalid was commissioned by the National Theatre for Children to explore the affect that migration to another country has on children The work explores these children’s family stories, revealing that you don’t have to go far back in any New Zealand family tree to find the refugee story in all of us.
  • As part of the development process for this production workshops were held with students in Wellington and Auckland, which has helped to inform the storylines.. this process continued for two years,. Every step of the process was moderated by the adults and children alike.
  • , in recognition of 2009 being the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 2, we wanted to commission a work that explored the affect of conflict on children.
  • Working with the students renowned New Zealand composer Gareth Farr whom at the age of 25, became Chamber Music New Zealand’s youngest composer-in-residence composed an opera that transcends both opera in a traditional sense and music from a child's perspective, both thematically and stylistically.
  • and award winning playwright Dave Armstrong (image) whose work for the theatre includes Nui Sila, King and Country, the Tutor and most recently the award winning Where we once belonged worked closely with refugee children talking about their experiences in coming to NZ to live and listening to their stories It was at this point that we decided these stories were too valuable to leave.
  • There is no prescript for musical idiom here and we followed none in this work, but the key has always been to make the work accessible for our audience, ……….young people aged 8 and up We did spend quite a lot of time in conversation with the children about this, and their preconceived ideas of opera were of it being inaccessible and not that engaging. They were engaging in a form of storytelling that was meaningful, personal and at the same time quite therapeutic
  • DIGRETION for a moment Story telling is something that dates back to the dawn of time. As a form of shared communication A story puts the children both telling and listening at ease. By telling a story it allows the listener to understand something concrete before leading on to the related abstract concepts. These abstract concepts Whether the reason for coming to New Zealand is to flee violence, economic disparity, repression, natural disasters, or other harsh living and working conditions, the stories all seem to fall into a small range of categories. To these kids talking about where they came from was important, they talked about the initial impressions, school and what they found difficult about making NZ home , but by far the most popular recurring theme was that of friendship. Students repeatedly told stories about a feeling of being alone, isolated, afraid and the need for companionship. A person to share with.
  • And these stories were a chance to voice that, and on another level an opportunity to quench an innate and unrelenting desire to interact We chose to create a video installation of these stories as they stood on their own merit as works that were worthy of inclusion in an exhibition. Capital E has a lot iof foot trraffic with its position in Civic Square and children were able to sit and view the stories Accompanied opera on its tours Themed as metaphor for migration Capital E able to act a s broker for children in the contact we have in education. Able to gain access to stoiries normally unobtainable Buy in from other agencies
  • This innate and unrelenting desire to interact was probably best defined Danah Boyd—a PhD student at the University of California-Berkeley studying the networks developing between digital youth—in a 2008 blog post when she wrote: School is one of the few times when they can get together with their friends and they use every unscheduled moment to socialize - passing time, when the teacher's back is turned, lunch, bathroom breaks, etc. They are desperately craving an opportunity to connect with their friends; not surprisingly, their use of anything that enables socialization while at school is deeply desired. Boyd goes on to explain the positive role that social networking services can play in the natural growth of a child’s individuality: Their value is about the kinds of informal social learning that is required for maturation - understanding your community, learning the communicate with others, working through status games, building and maintaining friendships, working through personal values, etc. All too often we underestimate these processes because, traditionally, they have happened so naturally. Yet, what's odd about today's youth culture is that we've systematically taken away the opportunities for socialization. And yet we wonder why our kids are so immature compared to kids from other cultures. Social network sites are popular because youth are trying to take back the right to be social, even if it has to happen in interstitial ways. We need to recognize that not all learning is about book learning - brains mature through experience, including social experiences. (Boyd) One of the best free tools available to teachers and students who are learning with the world rather than about the world is Voicethread. Known as a “group audio blog,” Voicethread allows users to record text and audio comments about uploaded images. Voicethread has two distinct advantages for classrooms that are communicating and collaborating across counties, countries or continents: 1 Voicethread is Asynchronous: That means users can work on and enjoy Voicethread presentations at any time--even if their "partners" are sleeping a million miles away! 2. Voicethread is Engaging: Let's face it--sometimes working with digital partners can be pretty boring. After all, email and discussion boards are nothing more than written text. Voicethread gives users something interesting to talk about---pictures! What's more, being able to actually hear one another makes digital communication through Voicethread much more personal.
  • Transcript of "Stephen Aitken - Refugee Stories –The inspiration behind the Opera Kia Ora Khalid"

    1. 1. Refugee Stories Brief intro (Pat’s words) The inspiration behind the Opera Kia Ora Khalid
    2. 2. National Theatre for Children
    3. 3. Creative Technology
    4. 4. Kia Ora Khalid
    5. 11. Refugee Stories
    6. 12. Refugee Stories
    7. 13. Refugee Stories Online Resource Wiki and VoiceThread
    8. 14. Kia Ora Khalid The Opera