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In Place and Out of Character

From: Emily Feder
Length: 26:04

Audio Portraits of three refugee families living in New York City

Yonasvogue3_small In Place and Out of Character features three refugee families resettled in New York City by the International Rescue Committee. The families tell stories of escape, exile and adjustment to American life. They are from Burma, Sierra Leone and Eritrea. Originally produced as part of World Refugee Day 2005, In Place and Out of Character included a photo exhibit, theater performance by refugee youth, and audio listening stations playing these stories: 1. SAI AUNG, DAISY & JERRY (Burma - 8:50) Sai Aung is a human rights lawyer from Burma. A long-time politician and advocate for democracy and human rights, Sai Aung fled to Thailand in 1999 under the threat of a life-long prison sentence for his political beliefs. He and his family entered the United States as refugees in 2004. 2. ABIBATU HADIATU AND ABIBATU (Sierra Leone - 7:24) Abibatu Hadiatu came to the United States two months ago with her five adopted children. She was separated from three of her sons the day the war reached her city in Sierra Leone. After running from her home, she and her family lived in Guinea and the Gambia. Recently, Abibatu was reunited with her sons in New York. 3. FITSUM, KIBROM and YONNAS (Eritrea - 8:56) Brothers Fitsum, Kibrom and Yonnas have been in the United States for three months. Their education in Eritrea was interrupted when they fled to Ethiopia to avoid forced inscription into the Eritrean army. Each brother describes crossing the border, life in a refugee camp and resettling in New York City. Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee is the largest nonsectarian agency providing emergency relief, rehabilitation, protection, post-conflict development and resettlement services for refugees and others uprooted or affected by oppression and violent conflict. In New York City, the IRC has resettled over 23,000 refugees from more than 30 countries. For more information, visit www.theIRC.org/NewYork

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Piece Description

In Place and Out of Character features three refugee families resettled in New York City by the International Rescue Committee. The families tell stories of escape, exile and adjustment to American life. They are from Burma, Sierra Leone and Eritrea. Originally produced as part of World Refugee Day 2005, In Place and Out of Character included a photo exhibit, theater performance by refugee youth, and audio listening stations playing these stories: 1. SAI AUNG, DAISY & JERRY (Burma - 8:50) Sai Aung is a human rights lawyer from Burma. A long-time politician and advocate for democracy and human rights, Sai Aung fled to Thailand in 1999 under the threat of a life-long prison sentence for his political beliefs. He and his family entered the United States as refugees in 2004. 2. ABIBATU HADIATU AND ABIBATU (Sierra Leone - 7:24) Abibatu Hadiatu came to the United States two months ago with her five adopted children. She was separated from three of her sons the day the war reached her city in Sierra Leone. After running from her home, she and her family lived in Guinea and the Gambia. Recently, Abibatu was reunited with her sons in New York. 3. FITSUM, KIBROM and YONNAS (Eritrea - 8:56) Brothers Fitsum, Kibrom and Yonnas have been in the United States for three months. Their education in Eritrea was interrupted when they fled to Ethiopia to avoid forced inscription into the Eritrean army. Each brother describes crossing the border, life in a refugee camp and resettling in New York City. Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee is the largest nonsectarian agency providing emergency relief, rehabilitation, protection, post-conflict development and resettlement services for refugees and others uprooted or affected by oppression and violent conflict. In New York City, the IRC has resettled over 23,000 refugees from more than 30 countries. For more information, visit www.theIRC.org/NewYork

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Review of In Place and Out of Character

I find the voices of the refugees who tell their stories in this piece so rich, so fascinating, that they make for beautiful radio in and of themselves. In Place & Out of Character invites us to listen intently, to come and meet it. There is a lack of dramatic tension, an absence of polished acoustic stage-setting. The stories themselves are straightforward. They grow and fill the listener's mind with simple details that stick in the memory. This is a subtle piece, filled with the unique cadences of the human voice.

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Review of In Place and Out of Character

Like the legitimate theatre where an audience commits the willing suspension of disbelief, the invisible theatre of radio demands a commitment from listeners to create something greater in the space between "sent" and "received". But there's an obligation on the creator in the bargain, to set the scene -- physical, intellectual, emotional – into which they invite the audience.

"In Place and Out of Character", despite Will Sorrell's interspersed narration, seems "in character", but "out of place". The three vignettes deliver great personality on the part of the refugees, but the package isn't assembled in a way that ultimately inhabits a place with listeners.

The disconnect is a genetic legacy – these three 9-minute profiles were originally created to be accompanied by photographs and live theatre, in which milieu they would perform much differently.

Fine work by producer Emily Feder & crew, and wonderful audio, but somehow in this raw format it's not radio, it doesn't translate. There's not the storyline and direction we need to turn this from chatter on the subway to conversation from new real people we're meeting.

That said, Abibatu Hadiatu's segment has so much music in her words, it could nearly be played as song. And overall, the elements are professional and compelling enough that we can look forward expectantly to Feder's work produced specifically for broadcast.

Broadcast History

June 20, 2005 - live audio installation at the International Rescue Committee, New York City.

Timing and Cues

00:00 Introduction
00:34 Sai Aung, Daisy, Jerry
09:24 Abibatu Hadiat & Abibatu Jr.
16:48 Fitsum, Kibrum & Yonnas
25:44 Credits
26:00 End

Related Website

http://www.theirc.org