ASYLUM by Ruth Fingret

Where do you go to hide?

ASYLUM is set against the tragedy of statelessness but is about the deeply personal lives of those who seek physical asylum and those with the power to grant it.

Charged with assessing asylum seeker Hajir's case, Craig’s life unravels as his son, Jason, is arrested and his estranged wife Vicki returns. As untruths are uncovered he faces a dilemma: support the young men despite their lies or stick to his rigid principles of truth and duty.

Asylum is a story of family, duty, trauma, and tough choices.

What did reviewers think?

"political" a "brilliant and timely piece of writing" "a perfect storm" "hard-hitting" "tight and demanding" "powerful narrative"

Click on image to read full review

What did audiences think?

Hear what people said on opening night

Characters

  • Craig – works for Australian Immigration  45+
  • Hajir – a desperate asylum seeker from Lebanon. Mid 20’s
  • Jason – Craigs son is trouble with the police.  Early 20’s
  • Vicki – Craig’s ex-wife dips in and out of his life causing havoc whenever she does. 45+
  • Christine -a green police officer caught in the middle of a difficult family dynamic. Mid 20’s

Detailed Synopsis

Inspired by the tragedy of statelessness, ASYLUM explores the dynamics of the family of Craig, an immigration officer, who must decide how far he will go to save his own child while also deciding the fate of a young refugee.   

While Craig interviews Hajir, his son Jason is questioned by the police. He is a suspect in an assault case. As the story unfolds, Craig’s estranged and mentally ill wife, Vicki, reappears after being missing for three years.

Craig, who has spent the last fifteen years raising his rebellious son alone, is fed up and resentful. Jason’s arrest is the breaking point, and Craig is ready to turn his back on him, believing it’s time for Jason to face the consequences of his actions.

Vicki, whom Craig still loves but is wary of, pressures him to do more for Jason.

Jason himself pleads for his father’s help.

Meanwhile, Hajir adds pressure as he shares his  heart-breaking story of his life in Lebanon. Though he is similar in age to Jason, he has endured far greater hardships. 

Craig senses that both Jason and Hajir are hiding the truth to protect themselves. While he understands their motivations, he cannot rationalize or pardon their deceit. He struggles to accept or forgive their dishonesty.

Further arguments with Vicki lead to her isolation and eventual suicide. 

Revelations from Jason reveal how deeply Craig has misunderstood his son’s struggles, including dealing with ADHD, a bi-polar mother, and feeling judged by his father.

Hajir pleads for forgiveness. He knows he has made a small mistake that could change the trajectory of his future. He desperate to start a new life in Australia.

Craig faces a fundamental dilemma: should he summon compassion and support these two young men despite their lies, or adhere to the rigid value system of truth and duty he has upheld his entire life?

From the Writer

The creative journey for ASYLUM was ignited by two encounters with different men over the course of three weeks. The first was a man I met who worked within the Australian Immigration system. He shared his insights into the relentless efforts of immigration officers to discern the authenticity of asylum seekers’ accounts amidst the flux of truth and fabrication. The second was a father whose son had recently been arrested. He looked beaten and told me he was fed up bailing him out and had decided that this time he was leaving him to fight on his own.

Australia was in the thrall of the Stop the Boats campaign and I imagined what it would be like for an immigration officer charged with deciding on the freedom of another while his own son was facing potential incarceration.  As I wrote the play it prompted reflection on the sanctity of refuge and the places, real or imaginary, we seek solace in times of adversity. Where do we go to hide? As the focus widens from the asylum seeker’s story to encompass the entire family dynamic of the man who will decide his fate, Asylum explores the complexity and similarity of their intertwined struggles and the profound impact of each character’s decisions on one another.

 

2024 Production

May 2-12, 2024 The Greek Theatre Marrickville

Images by Renee Nowytarger

From the Writer

The creative journey for ASYLUM was ignited by a profound encounter with a man I met who worked within the Australian Immigration system. He shared his insights into the relentless efforts of immigration officers to discern the authenticity of asylum seekers' accounts amidst the flux of truth and fabrication. Moreover, it prompted reflection on the sanctity of refuge and the places, real or imaginary, we seek solace in times of adversity. What started as a conversation finished as this play which I'm proud to be producing with this wonderful creative team.

From the Director

In 2022 Ruth Fingret asked me if I was interested in directing a play she had written called ASYLUM. After one read it was a “hell yeah” from me. After after months of searching for the right cast and the right theatre here we are in 2024 ready to put on a play we are all proud of. This beautifully written play deals with many issues including, mental health, dishonesty and emotional disconnection. The events and characters unfold in an excellent fast paced script with juxtaposing stories. You can’t help but feel empathy for all the characters despite some making bad choices as they do the only things they can to protect themselves and those they care for most. ASYLUM is a challenging piece of work for the actors. Not only for the emotional journey all their characters go through but the structure of the play. At times two or three scenes are interwoven, playing out simultaneously, overlapping. When putting on an independent theatre production it certainly comes with its challenges. We don’t have the luxury of full-time rehearsals for weeks or months on end. In our case we managed roughly three rehearsals a week in limited rehearsal space while some of the actors juggle day jobs.  I am immensely proud of this dedicated team of actors and how far they have come over the past six weeks and the bonds they have made.  ASYLUM is an intelligent piece of writing that will make you think.

Eli Saad is a Sydney based actor with credits in The Unlisted (ABC/Netflix), Deadly Women (Netflix) and theatre productions Just a Short Break on a Hafgufa, Asylum (in 2017) and Future Seekers. His professional training includes foundation work with Screenwise and Actors Centre Australia, along with master classes with Allison Meadows, Tamara Hunter, Anthony Wong and Michelle Danner. Eli has continued to expand himself in the industry, garnering experience in directing, teaching and voice over work. After a break from the acting scene Eli is beyond thrilled to return to the stage and reprise his role as Hajir in Ruth Fingret’s Asylum in 2024..

Chris Miller is a professional Actor and Voice Over Artist hailing from Port Macquarie and based in Sydney Australia. Miller trained at UOW and tutored under reps from NIDA, RADA, The Actors Studio (N.Y) and Griffith University. Known for his vivacious energy and laundry list of credits. Miller's recent run of shows in the immersive true crime project Deadhouse, had him reviewed as “Miller is Ferocious” (Theatre travels), The Daily Telegraphs reviewed Miller as “An Explosive Force of Nature” as Lt Peter Handcock in Breaker Morant and “Miller's Energy knows No Bounds” (The Buzz) in the Dystopian production Out of Fear. Simply put, “Miller Entertains” (Time Out). Miller also specialises in voice over, narration and audiobook production and is the Founder and Creative Director of bookclubaudio.com

Levi Kenway (he/him) graduated in 2021 from the Academy of Film Theatre and Television with a Bachelor of Acting. He has also completed his ATCL Letters in Speech and Drama from the Trinity College of London. Levi's theatre credits include: Rabbit in 'Samson' (Full Throttle Theatre), Benedick in 'Much Ado About Nothing' (Izabella Louk Presents), Ensemble in 'Mortel' (Merak Physical Theatre), Bruce in 'The Tale of the Great Emu War' (Fingerless Theatre) and Ben in 'SHITTY' (Essential Workers).

Dianne Weller is an award winning Actress, Voice Over Artist & Singer who performed and directed For Your Ears Only at the Beursschowberg, Brussels, Buda Kortrijk and the Monty Antwerp, in Assassins at the Theatre Garonne, Toulouse, France, the Monty, Antwerp,
de Singel, Antwerp, CC Brugge, Theatre Marni, Brussels, Vooruit, Gent, Beligum, Theatre Garasjen, the Theatre Garden Norway, The Malta Festival, Poznan, Poland, and Nature Theatre of Oklahoma’s Life and Times 2 at Kaai Theatre Brussels, CC Brugge, de Singel Antwerp, Belgium. In the UK, in Blue Remembered Hills, Spring Awakening for Theatre Royal Bath, Blackrock at the Young Vic Theatre London, The Dysfunctional Family at Tristian Bates Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre Opera Festival London, 2000 In Our Time at the London Palladium Theatre and Amadeus at the Enmore Theatre Sydney. She has featured in television series Total Control for ABC, Professor T for ITV PBS, Cellule de Crise for Swiss TV, and lead supporting role in the upcoming Spellbound season 2 on Hulu, France TV and ZDF in Germany.

Emma Burns is a Sydney based Actor/Director who has trained at Sydney Acting Studio since 2019, with professionals Travis McMahon, Donald Woodburn, Adam Dunn, Grace Naoum, Stephen Hunter and more. Emma began acting at 15 with a performance of Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing (2014), directed by Francesca Bridge-Cicic in Oxford. Since then Emma studied Drama at school and for the HSC, as well as taking various courses with NIDA Open, ScreenWise, ATYP and Run At It Shouting in London. Credits include The Removalists (2015), Romeo and Juliet (2017), No Exit (2019), Titus Andronicus (2021), The Glass Menagerie (2022) and The Eight Reindeer Monologues (2023). Emma’s directing credits include Venus In Fur (2019), Act Natural (2023), and Comfort, Spin, Travel (2023). Emma has been honing their skills at Sydney Acting Studio to focus on screen performance and hopes to follow a career in both stage and screen. Emma plans to one day live and work in the UK or the US.

From the Director

In 2022 Ruth Fingret asked me if I was interested in directing a play she had written called ASYLUM. After one read it was a “hell yeah” from me. After after months of searching for the right cast and the right theatre here we are in 2024 ready to put on a play we are all proud of.

This beautifully written play deals with many issues including, mental health, dishonesty and emotional disconnection. The events and characters unfold in an excellent fast paced script with juxtaposing stories. You can’t help but feel empathy for all the characters despite some making bad choices as they do the only things they can to protect themselves and those they care for most.

ASYLUM is a challenging piece of work for the actors. Not only for the emotional journey all their characters go through but the structure of the play. At times two or three scenes are interwoven, playing out simultaneously, overlapping. When putting on an independent theatre production it certainly comes with its challenges. We don’t have the luxury of full-time rehearsals for weeks or months on end. In our case we managed roughly three rehearsals a week in limited rehearsal space while some of the actors juggle day jobs. 

I am immensely proud of this dedicated team of actors and how far they have come over the past six weeks and the bonds they have made. 

ASYLUM is an intelligent piece of writing that will make you think.

CAST

Eli Saad as Hajir

Chris Miller as Craig

Levi Kenway as Jason

Dianne Weller as Vikki

Emma Burns as Christine

CREATIVES

Ruth Fingret Writer

Olga Tamara Director and set designer

Mehran Mortezaei Lighting Design

Greg Skehill Score

Supported by Ian Cooke

WARNINGS

ASYLUM includes coarse language and loud noises and contains themes of violence, suicide and domestic abuse. Not recommended for children under 15 years of age. 

RUN TIME

75 Minutes

2017 Production

Comber Street Studios, Paddington
November 15-25

Images by David Hooley

CAST

Eli Saad as Hajir

David Woodland  as Craig

Joshua MacElroy as Jason

Katherine Shearer as Vikki

Hannah Raven as Christine

 

CREATIVES

Director Richard Hiliar

Producers  Brave New Word