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Rawiri Paratene, Sri Lankan Kids win at Edinburgh

Rawiri Paratene and Children from Sri Lanka win prestigious award at Edinburgh Fringe

Rawiri Paratene and
Children from Sri Lanka in Finding Marina
Click to enlarge

Rawiri Paratene and
Children from Sri Lanka in Finding Marina
Click to enlarge

Rawiri Paratene and Children from Sri Lanka win prestigious award at Edinburgh Fringe…

‘Finding Marina’ a play co-devised and starring Maori actor and writer, Rawiri Paratene has won the prestigious ‘UNESCO Light of the Festival Award for life changing theatre’ at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s ‘Pick of the Festival Awards Ceremony’.

‘Finding Marina’, which is loosely based on Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is a sequel to ‘Children of the Sea’, which won four awards at last year’s Fringe, including the coveted ‘Spirit of the Fringe’ and Fringe First Awards.

Both plays are performed by children from Sri Lanka. ‘Finding Marina’ is a continuation of the work Rawiri started last year, when he was invited to work with young survivors of the Tsunami. ‘Finding Marina’ brings together children from the Tamil and Sinhalese communities.

‘Many are orphans’, Rawiri explains, ‘a Sinhalese girl lost her mother in the Tsunami and her father was killed in the current wave of civil unrest; a Tamil girl lost everything when her village was burnt last March. She had to be given a new identity to be able to travel here as all her papers were lost in the fires.’ Paratene says ‘it is a miracle that these two communities have been able to work together on this project. We received death threats for trying to do this work and struggled to find a venue in Colombo that would house the children together’

Rawiri Paratene and
Children from Sri Lanka in Finding Marina
Click to enlarge

Rawiri Paratene and
Children from Sri Lanka in Finding Marina
Click to enlarge

‘Finding Marina’ has at its nucleus most of the children who were involved in ‘Children of the Sea” and four of the senior Sri Lankan actors who took part as well. One of those actors, who wished to remain nameless, says that ‘Finding Marina’ will not be taken around Sri Lanka like ‘Children of the Sea’ was after its success in Edinburgh because this play is too close to the bone. ‘Even though we have created a fairy tale story, and even though it is positive in that it is promoting peace and unity, simply because it deals with the issues of civil unrest; this will never be performed in Sri Lanka. That’s a pity because I am wishing that the people there could see this because it would make them proud of these children who are no longer victims, but are now survivors’

Rawiri explains that “Finding Marina as story needed to deal with the grim reality of war through eyes of the children who have grown up with it. But the audiences are left a sense of hope that the wisdom of the next generation may bring peace…”

Earlier this year the ‘Children of the Sea’ Project gained the support of the world’s largest child-centred community development organisation, PLAN. It has also gained a superstar fan in Kylie Minogue who has helped raise the profile of the piece. The children were delighted when Kylie made a special trip up to Edinburgh to see the show. ‘Kylie had breakfast with the children the next morning and performed an impromptu concert for them in the lounge of the house they are staying in here. The children did not know how famous she is; they just accepted her as a kind and loving woman. It was probably a bigger thrill for me than it was for them’ Paratene said.

Rawiri returned to Sri Lanka last May to begin working on the piece. He is one of three other international practitioners that were invited to work on the project, which is led by Hana Al Hadad who was working for Red Cross when the Tsunami came. British director Toby Gough who co-devised the piece with Rawiri and Bollywood choreographer Terence Lewis are the other two.

‘Finding Marina’ which is a piece of promenade theatre performed outdoors in the idyllic Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh has its last performance tonight, then the big journey home begins. ‘We are unsure what these children will be returning to as the situation has worsened in the month we have been here. But for now the cast are all enjoying this deserved success’

Rawiri Paratene and
Children from Sri Lanka in Finding Marina
Click to enlarge

Rawiri Paratene and
Children from Sri Lanka in Finding Marina
Click to enlarge

ENDS

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