The Art of Belonging in The Neighbourhood
18 February 2020 | News
How often do we stop and reflect on moments that have made us feel like we truly belong in our community?
Is it the warm feeling of safety and contentment we may be lucky enough to feel as children at home with our family? Is it the connection parents and kids find with each other through the school-years? Is it the bonding over a shared passion on the sports field or at a concert?
Is it the assumption that people who look like us, dress like us and talk like us have had, give or take, the same fundamental experience of life? Does this make us feel more comfortable to give them a smile, and strike up a conversation?
But what if I’m not from around here? What if I look different to you and I’m learning English but I feel shy striking up a conversation with you because it’s really hard to understand your Aussie accent? And what if I am from here? I was born here. I speak like you. I dress like you. But I look different. So people look at me and talk to me as if I don’t belong here.
How do we ensure newcomers find belonging in our neighbourhoods?
Each year, Queensland welcomes around 3,000 refugees each year into our neighbourhoods. They are ordinary people who have faced extraordinary circumstances and taken the courageous decision to leave incredibly dangerous situations, driven by the hope of creating a new life for themselves and their families.
Multicultural Australia settles these new Queenslanders in our neighbourhoods. We welcome them at the airport, find them homes, and assist them to join English classes and find a job. This work of welcome is vital but it doesn’t guarantee that newcomers find belonging in our communities.
Creating welcoming neighbourhoods is something that depends on all of us. It is possible when we embrace and recognise every individual as someone with a unique story to tell and an important contribution to make. Through theatre, we see this process unfold in front of us. Theatre tells us stories we might not have heard before. Theatre lets us bond and empathise with characters we might ignore if we met on the street. We get to laugh and cry together. We get to practise our curiosity. And in the theatre, in that shared moment, we all belong.
Multicultural Australia partners with La Boite Theatre Company to harness this power of theatre to create a shared sense of belonging for all of us who choose to call Queensland home. Together, we have developed the acclaimed immersive theatre experience The Village (2017) and now the 2020 La Boite season opener The Neighbourhood. Both productions bring the stories of diverse Australians to the stage, including refugees and asylum seekers, as well as second and third generation Australians with diverse cultural heritage. By telling the stories of our diverse people, we tell the stories of our multicultural Australia.
As in art, so in life…
It is our vision that our theatre partnership, showcasing diversity and inviting conversations about welcome and belonging, will inspire audiences to go back to their neighbourhoods and continue those conversations with their families, friends and communities.
Both The Village and The Neighbourhood productions include strong engagement with school audiences. We know that if young people recognise the value of diversity and belonging, as our future leaders our communities are in safe hands. We are thrilled to hear about a teacher taking her drama students to see The Neighbourhood. The show fits perfectly with their curriculum and they will analyse the show for their assessment and devise their own production using similar storytelling processes.
We look forward to sharing many more stories of the impact of The Neighbourhood on schools and audiences throughout its Brisbane and Toowoomba seasons.