MATLOCK: Actress Ava Hunt visits West Bank to research play

Ava Hunt
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Award-winning children’s author Michael Morpurgo has sent a message of support to a creative team which has adapted one of his stories for the stage.

Award-winning children’s author Michael Morpurgo has sent a message of support to a creative team which has adapted one of his stories for the stage.

The Kites Are Flying, a drama focusing on children living in the shadow of the wall which divides Israel and the West Bank, is to be premiered at Nottingham Playhouse on Thursday, May 2 and will be performed at Derby Theatre on Wednesday, May 8.

Actress Ava Hunt, who lives in Matlock, spent time with young refugees near Bethlehem to research her role as a television reporter in the play.

Ava said: “Michael Morpurgo has sent a very heart-felt message to us to say that he won’t be able to see it but that he is ‘cheering us on’ and is very supportive of the project.”

She admits that she was incredibly humbled by her experiences in the refugee camp. “The emotional and behavioural issues of the children are obvious to see - poverty, lack of opportunity, poor schooling, health care etc takes its toll on them generation after generation. There are no open spaces for the chldren to play in and all along one side of the camp is the wall that separates Israel from Palestine.

“Life is pretty grim. The opportunities for young people to achieve the careers of their dreams, to obtain a good education are limited due to lack of economic investment.”

Ava and the play’s director Maggie Ford worked in the Aida refugee camp with the Airowwad Centre, an organisation which uses theatre, music and arts to build the children’s self-esteem.

She said: “We worked with the children to draw pictures of the kites flying and the wall and their dreams - one child said his dream was to go to Jerusalem - this is nine kilometres away, he’s never been and would not be permitted.

“The following week we made kites with them, the children were very excited about this and delighted in playing with them afterwards.

“Going to the refugee camps was a really important part of our project to understand what it is like to live in these conditions and to look at creative/artistic projects like the Airowwad Centre was key.”

Prior to her research trip to the West Bank, Ava worked with pupils at two schools in Derby exploring the themes of the story, geting them to make kites and talk about their dreams.

She said: “I chose Normanton, a very multi-cultural area, where there might not be physical walls but there may be invisible walls that prevent the children and their families from visiting the theatre in Derby.”