The Audition – Finding refuge in Australia can be challenging

by | Apr 17, 2024

Outer Urban Projects return its critically acclaimed theatre work, The Audition, with a Melbourne-metro tour to La Mama Courthouse, Bunjil Place and Bowery Theatre in May and June 2024.

Inspired by two young Iranian immigrant artists Milad Norouzi and Sahra Davoudi, The Audition peels back the layers of the audition process and how it correlates to seeking asylum in Australia.

Asylum seekers and actors have one thing in common. They are outsiders with uncertain status.

The Audition director and Outer Urban Projects Artistic Director, Irine Vela, says there are parallels in the process experienced by actors seeking work and refugees seeking asylum.

“In both cases, applicants wait while someone more powerful determines their future, often based of a single encounter. The asylum seeker, just like the actor, is an expert at being patient with a force that keeps them waiting without having their hopes dashed,” explained Vela.

When The Audition premiered almost 5 years ago in 2019, Norouzi and Davoudi were doubly displaced within Australia and on its stages. They now have permanent Australian residency and are enjoying their artistic pursuits.

Norouzi and Davoudi are ongoing associate artists with Outer Urban Projects. They have contributed to the company over many years in major works and other outreach programs while they went through the process to secure refuge in Australia.

Outer Urban Projects aims to connect new and established artists based in the northern Melbourne fringes. It provides an open door for collaboration, where artist lived experiences shape the content of the stories that it shares.

Norouzi and Davoudi didn’t have to audition. Instead, they were invited to create The Audition in collaboration with Irine Vela and writers: Christos Tsiolkas, Patricia Cornelius, Melissa Reeves, Tes Lyssiotis and Wahibe Moussa. They will also join Mary Sitarenos and Evangelos Arabatzis as performers in the 2024 Melbourne-metro tour.

Outer Urban Projects connected Davoudi with Tsiolkas, who has been mentoring her to develop her writing. She is currently enrolled in a masters in theatre writing at the Victorian College of the Arts at University of Melbourne.

Vela has collaborated with Norouzi for almost 10 years since he fled from Iran as a 16-year-old. His stories have influenced many Outer Urban Project works, including Grand DiVisions that premiered at Arts Centre Melbourne 6-months after he arrived in Australia in 2015 as an asylum seeker.

“Our Melbourne-metro tour of The Audition ends during Refugee Week, which this year has the theme of ‘Finding Freedom through Family.’ This seems very fitting as Milad has now reunited with his parents after a decade of separation.” explained Vela.

“The Audition offers a sharp and insightful perspective into the protocols and powers that permit or veto entry into our country and onto our stages,” said Vela.

May 22 – June 2

outerurbanprojects.org/works/theaudition

Image Darren Gill

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