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Refugee Boy

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Courtyard Theatre

£10 Ticket

Tickets from £10 to £18
Discounts £3 off in A & B Monday to Friday
Groups 5+ £3 off
Groups 10+ £5 off
Groups 25+ £6 off Area A

A £1.75 booking fee will be applied to every  transaction


Running Time : 1 hour and 20 minutes with no interval

Suitable for 10+

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Community Network     11, 12 & 14 March 7.45pm, 16 March 2.30pm, 20 & 21 March 1.30pm, 26 & 28 March 7.45pm

Post Show Discussion    27 March 7.45pm

Captioned     28 March 7.45pm

Audio Described    23 March 2.30pm and 27 March 7.45pm

BSL 21 March 1.30pm

Based on the book by Benjamin Zephaniah
Adapted for the stage by Lemn Sissay

Directed by Gail McIntyre
Designed by Emma Williams
Lighting Designer Malcolm Rippeth
Projection Designer Mic Pool
Composer Jonnie Khan
Sound Designer Ian Trollope
Casting Director Kay Magson
Dramaturg Ben Jancovich


We're working in collaboration with:



A story about arriving, belonging and finding home.

Poet and playwright Lemn Sissay has adapted this powerful, startling new play from Benjamin Zephaniah's acclaimed novel, first published in 2001and now a worldwide phenomenon.

As a violent civil war rages back home, teenaged Alem and his father are in a B&B in Berkshire. It's his best holiday ever. The next morning his father is gone. He's left a note explaining that his parents want to protect Alem from the war. This strange grey
country is now his home.

On his own, and in the hands of the social services and the Refugee Council, he lives from letter to letter, waiting to hear something from his Father.

Then Alem meets car-obsessed Mustapha, the lovely 'out of your league' Ruth and dangerous Sweeney - 'no nickname. It doesn't get shortened'; three unexpected allies who spur him on as Alem fights to be seen as more than just the Refugee Boy.

Gail McIntyre, Associate Director for Young People's Theatre at the Playhouse, directs a gripping new production which pulses with energy, anger, loss and beauty.

"Fisayo Akinade's radiant lead performance…Moments of pure poetry"
The Stage

"Tremendous…The acting is consistently superb…This production is as welcome as spring. See it."
British Theatre Guide 

"A beautiful production bringing Zephaniah's characters vividly to life…Fisayo Akinade is quite wonderful as Alem…Gail McIntyre's direction is energetic and fast-moving."
Exeunt - 4 stars 

"Alem (Fisayo Akinade) and his supporting actors completely blew us away…A must see."
Leeds Student - 5 stars 

"Fine and humane play…Sissay weaves in poetry, laughter…moments of awe"
The Times - 4 Stars 

"Once in a while, a theatre production comes around which should not be missed. This is one of those productions."
Leeds List 

"Sweet, funny, highly inventive, brilliantly directed…Dominic Gately is staggeringly good"
Yorkshire Post - 4 stars




Welcoming the World

Alongside the production we've put together a programme of events and community and education projects to celebrate diversity, bring people together and dispel myths.

Welcoming The Worls celebrates Leeds' newest arrivals who have come to seek sanctuary here. In sharing their talents and enjoying the ricj mix of cultures they bring we shall share what we all have in common: rich and diverse histories, love of good food and music and a desire for safety for us and our families.

Download the full programme.

Highlights Include:

In Conversation: Benjamin Zephaniah and Lemn Sissay
Saturday 9 March

Open Days
Saturday 16 & 23 March

The Big Question
16 March


Students from the University of Leeds have curated an exhibition which will take you on a journey around the Playhouse:

Please download your map to the 'Arriving, Belonging and Finding Home' Exhibition here





Average visitor rating [1 to 5 stars] (** visitor reviews)

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  1. Helen

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    Don't miss it! Highly recommended. A cleverly staged and very well acted performance.

    DATE POSTED: 10/03/2013

  2. Martha

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    I saw Refugee Boy last night and cannot recommend it highly enough. It was thought-provoking, moving and, in places, very funny. The staging is striking and incredibly imaginative, and the casting is superb.

    DATE POSTED: 12/03/2013

  3. Tricia Feber

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    Absolutely brilliant. I am not good at sitting still and watching plays as I'm a fidget. I never moved once throughout the whole play except for to laugh, cry and clap at the end. Entrancing! The best play I have EVER seen!

    DATE POSTED: 17/03/2013

  4. Louisa Kwofiel

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    I like everything about the play infact Allam made the play so relistic. i think he should be sometimes cherful then always sad also Alams freind and Ruth made it soo perfect like it Everyone in the play is fantatsic love u all wish to see this play over and over again.

    DATE POSTED: 18/03/2013

  5. Phillip Owens

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    A wonderfully emotive play on a rather serious and important topic. The dashes of humour adds something to the performance and the actors truly make the play. Highly Recommended!

    DATE POSTED: 19/03/2013

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Refugees, us?

Adaptation - A Practical Introduction

Inspired by Lemn Sissay's adaptation of Benjamin Zephaniah's novel 'Refugee Boy', students in this session are given an introduction to the process of adapting poetry into a short piece of drama. This session will help students gain more of an understanding about how to extract and interpret information and ideas from a selection of poetry written by Benjamin Zephaniah in order to write and develop a short piece of drama.

This session is suitable for students in KS2 (year 6) and KS3 (years 7 and 8)

Wednesday 20 March, Thursday 21 March and Tuesday 26 March
10.30am - 12.30pm

£19.50 per student (includes ticket to matinee performance, 1.30pm)
Max: 30 students per session

Adaptation: An Online Resource

Part one of this resource guide will offer a comprehensive and detailed insight into the process of 'adapting' a novel for the stage, focusing on how to extract and interpret information, events and ideas from texts, and how to use planning, drafting, editing, proof reading and self evaluation to shape and craft writing.

Part Two will examine what it may feel like to have to be adaptable in a wide range of unfamiliar settings and contexts, in and beyond the classroom. It will help to encourage students to gain a greater understanding of the flight of young refugees and their needs in a new society. Part two will also offer guidance for teachers about how they can support young refugee students in their schools.


Promoting Positivity and Inclusion: CPD session for Primary and Secondary School Teachers

In this 2 hour session, City of Sanctuary and The HEARTS team from The Children's Society will provide guidance for schools on how to promote positive attitudes and instill a model of welcome, safety and inclusion within their school settings for students from a refugee background. Schools will also receive advice about how to apply for School of Sanctuary status.

If you would like to attend this session please email: aoibheann.kelly@wyp.org.uk

Thursday 28 February
5.30 - 7.30pm

Max: 40 participants

The Young Refugees share their stories
Read the blog from The Children's Society here

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