Asylum 2001

Safety? Sanctuary? Refuge? Detention.

How do we greet people fleeing persecution and war? Detention centres in the middle of nowhere, razor wire, years of waiting, bureaucratic mind games. A deliberate strategy of demonising and dehumanising, for cynical political ends.

Asylum breaks through the silence, allowing refugees to be seen and heard on their own terms. The work draws on some of the artists’ personal experiences, as well as research inside Villawood Detention Centre. Personal narratives of persecution and flight to Australia are juxtaposed with performative explorations of life in detention.

This issue is not going away any time soon. If there is interest from presenters, UTP would rework and update Asylum for performance from March 2003.

The Director’s Vision

Refugees have to tell their story over and over again. Every detail is checked and challenged. Their story is their only chance of survival, but it’s also a burden, to keep recounting and re-living incredibly traumatic events. They become their story, and they become performers. That’s the uneasy relationship we wanted to explore in Asylum.


[Asylum] had power and poignancy because of the great strength of some mature performers and the immediacy of the political situation in Australia’s atrocious handling of refugees.
Keith Gallasch, RealTime, July 2001

Asylum has only been running for a few minutes, and already its audience is immersed in a metaphoric version of the refugee experience… an emotionally moving presentation of these essential stories – and a searing indictment against the current regime.
Stephen Dunne, Sydney Morning Herald, June 2001