Founded in 2010, Treehouse Theatre is a non-profit organisation, based in NSW Australia.
What we do
The Treehouse Theatre mentoring program, provides a platform for young refugees to share their life stories. Through group story telling in a live public theatre performance, young refugees share their personal stories with friends, family and the wider community.
Treehouse Theatre currently schedules 2–3 formal programs per year. The programs often run under the names of "Tree of Life" and "Suitcase Stories". Each program runs for around 4 months and can support approximately 30 participants with close guidance and assistance from key schools, participants families and the wider community. A program will enable these participants to openly discuss their past and present journeys, develop a positive method to express their experiences, and as a group eventually perform their stories to a number of venues around NSW.
The aim of the program is twofold. Primarily to help instil confidence and wellbeing to the participants who have often endured a number of hardships through their lives. Yet secondly, as a vehicle to educate the broader community on the importance of supporting one another and welcoming those who are new to Australia.
Previous audiences of “Tree of Life” have testified to feeling both enlivened and transformed by the stories of “our” kids, and we listen to the sounds of audiences sobbing, and then shouting with laughter, with full hearts. Treehouse Theatre delights in the growth of confidence and happiness in our young refugees, as they discover that Australians are fascinated by what they have to say.
We are passionate about giving “The Refugee Experience” a genuine and empathic face.
The resilient young refugees with whom we work, offer us their life stories with open-hearted grace, and thus hand us the privilege and the responsibility of finding a way to give these stories voice and audience. We long for all Australians to hear these kids. We yearn for affluent and safe Australians of every colour to feel these stories. We crave other kids of all backgrounds to connect these (genuine!) vibrant faces with the word “refugee”.
How it all began
Directors Ruth and Catherine are are old friends, having met in our work with young refugees; Catherine as a Psychologist and School Counsellor, and Ruth as a Drama teacher and teacher of English as a Second Language. The directors both love theatre, and believe in the power of stories to enliven and transform, and in the “tangled magics” (to quote Tim Winton) of live theatre to take us inside the experience of the story-teller.
The programs would not be possible without the support of schools and their principals. Constant school participation comes from Miller Technology High School, Miller Intensive English Centre and Holroyd High School.