Comedian Tom Parry coaching refugees for stand-up comedy gig


A new festival journeying through stories and real-life experiences of displacement, refuge and migration from 23 October to 11 Nov 2018


Comedian Tom Parry is one third of sketch group Pappy’s (makers of BBC Three series Badults) and director of the Best Newcomer winning show at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Ciaran Dowd – Don Rodolfo. In addition, his own show was nominated for the award in 2015.

He is currently working with Camden People’s Theatre to coach refugees and migrants to deliver a one night only stand-up gig that the refugees will write and perform themselves. CPT are partnering with Counterpoint Arts to feature a line-up of first-time comedians that Tom will coach for this special event through one-on-one sessions, group workshops and writing exercises.

No Direction Home, Camden People’s Theatre’s new festival exploring displacement, migration and refuge, fearlessly asks what it means to be an exile or a descendent of exiles, to whom do we owe refuge and who gets to make a home in Britain today.

Unofficial records state that since the early 1990s, nearly 35,000 people have died trying to reach Europe, not just at sea but in detention centers, asylum units and within their new communities. The recent Windrush scandal and changes in EU regulations have plunged thousands into uncertainty about if, and where, they belong, and every day people are forced to flee violence closer to home.

CPT’s new festival will recount stories of those in exile ranging from those who have lived it to those who have inherited it, with topics ranging from the de-funding of women’s refuges to the ongoing migrant crisis and beyond. From the heart-breaking to the heartwarming, this three-week event features workshops, discussions and electrifying new theatre from the brightest and boldest of UK and international artists.

A newly announced highlight of the festival will be No Direction Home Stand Up Night, a one night only stand-up comedy gig written and performed by refugees and migrants. CPT are partnering with Counterpoint Arts to feature a line-up of first-time comedians coached for this special event by one third of sketch troupe Pappy’s, Tom Parry. Tom was nominated as Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2015, and this year directed the Best Newcomer-winning show, Ciaran Dowd – Don Rodolfo.

Performing from 6th – 10th Nov, Cash Carraway is a self-confessed ‘refuge connoisseur’ telling her story of how she and her daughter have tried to begin a new life free from domestic violence. Over 16 years, 13 refuges and 12 productions of The Vagina Monologues, Refuge Woman is a spoken-word performance looking at the media portrayal of working-class women, government cuts to domestic violence services and life in a woman’s refuge. The show is supported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the performance on Thursday 8thwill be followed by a Q&A with local journalists who contributed to their research into domestic violence in Camden.

Haunting recollections of the media images of child refugees are evoked in Beyond the Blue (5th Nov), a new play for adults written by children in response to the refugee crisis that also offers a vivid and charming insight into children’s view of the world. In Pizza Shop Heroes, four refugee and asylum-seeking young men take us from a pizza shop across centuries and continents to explore past, present and futures. This revealing, witty and lyric show is based on the actors lived experiences and created by Phosphoros Theatre whose previous productions include the acclaimed Dear Home Office. And from the political to the absurd, Josh Gardner’s Laud of the Rings (30 – 31 Nov) recollects his monumental journey from Oxford to Istanbul dressed as Frodo Baggins in an anarchic approach to performance that questions privilege and migration.

Two homegrown shows with performers from across the globe, Adventures in Black and White and Where We Began have been developed with support from CPT. Adventures in Black and White follows the parallel lives of two people in exile, one in Siberia, the other in Sussex, while Where We Began will be a multi-lingual, wild and vivid vision of the future, combining storytelling, movement and live music.

The festival also includes a Long Table discussion with Music in Detention & Lois Weaver, a special public event assembling people from arts, migration and social justice backgrounds to explore the role of the arts in developing strategies around radical hospitality. Music in Detention is one of the very few companies allowed into detention centers to work with immigration detainees, bringing them together with professional musicians and local communities to share, create and enjoy music.

Artistic Director of Camden People’s Theatre Brian Logan said, “The refugee crisis and austerity. The upsurge of British nativism in light of Brexit. Donald Trump and his wall. Everywhere you look, welcomes are being revoked, care withdrawn, and hospitality is at a premium. And everywhere we at CPT looked, electrifying artists are making work about it. ‘No Direction Home’ brings together that work and creates a context to talk about humans on the move. We’ve taken our time to bring this festival to life, working closely with community partners and artists with lived experience of displacement, migration and refuge. We’re now excited to welcome you to three weeks of entertaining, urgent and insightful performances bringing those subjects to the stage.”

The remaining shows in the festival are as follows;

On death, etcetera | Zad El Bacha – Sat 3 Nov, 7pm

This is a story about a mother who lived through the Lebanese civil war, and her daughter, who has not. It’s about the way this mother speaks to her daughter about trauma, and about the funny, heartbreaking stories which she tells as one would tell a fairytale. £12 (£10 conc.)

The Cocoa Butter Club – Sat 3 Nov, 8.30pm

Wrapped in burlesque, spoken word, live music, drag and voguing, The Cocoa Butter Club proudly provides a platform for performers of colour to exhibit culturally expressive work for us to revel in. “We take refuge in our communities, we are inviting you to celebrate our differences with a bang.” £12 (£10 conc.)

No Direction Home Stand Up Night | CPT and Counterpoint Arts – Sun 4 Nov, 7pm

CPT and Counterpoint Arts present an evening of stand-up comedy written and performed by refugees and migrants. Featuring a lineup of first-time comedians coached for this special event by Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee, veteran of the sketch group Pappy’s and acclaimed director Tom Parry, this one-off night of unexpected laughter has been created uniquely for ‘No Direction Home’.

Beyond the Blue | Cut the Cord – Mon 5 Nov, 7.15pm

A new play for adults written by children in response to the refugee crisis. The result is a story that’s not only charming and imaginative but also highly relevant to one of our most complex contemporary issues. £12 (£10 conc.)

Heard | Winnie Imara and Tamsin Newlands – Mon 5 – Wed 7 Nov, 9pm

One room – Ana and Joud are waiting. Thing is, they don’t know how long they’re waiting for. How will they survive a system rigged against them? And what sacrifices will be made. A play about identity, sisterhood and survival. £12 (£10 conc.)

Refuge Woman | Cash Carraway – Tues 6 – Sat 10 Nov, 7.15pm (Sat matinee at 2pm)

Cash is a self-confessed ‘refuge connoisseur’. She knows the refuges with the best counsellors, clothing donations and the ones closest to the heartiest ‘all you can eat’ buffets. After the ceiling crashes in the safe house she shares with her daughter, she attempts to make sense of their journey and vows to begin a new life free from violence.

Inspired by real life events, this darkly humorous, spoken-word performance looks at the media portrayal of working-class women, government cuts to domestic violence services and life in a women’s refuge. Supported by CPT. Directed by Conrad Murray. £12 (£10 conc.)

Pizza Shop Heroes | Phosphoros Theatre – Fri 9 – Sun 11 Nov, 9pm (8.30pm Sun 11)

Revealing, witty and lyrical, four refugee and asylum-seeking young men take us from a pizza shop across centuries and continents to explore past, present and futures. Actors tell their own stories from lived experiences. By the company behind the acclaimed Dear Home Office. £12 (£10 conc.)

Asylum | CURTIS – Sun 11 Nov, 7pm

Asylum is an experiment of live music production, spoken word and politics. The sound of droning guitar and staggering synths will act as a symphony for the forgotten in this piece about status, patriotism, you, me, us and them. £12 (£10 conc.)