We first met Khalil in the summer of 2019 when we worked with a group of refugees developing ideas for our Fairytale project. You can read about our project 'Home away from Home' here. 

Khalil is an 18 year old Kurdish-Syrian, brought up in Aleppo who moved to Turkey when the civil war affected the city. In both Syria and Turkey, the Kurdish are stripped of citizens’ rights. They do not qualify for education or healthcare. Khalil is clearly a very intelligent and thoughtful young man. He already speaks three or four languages and is currently learning English at Newcastle College before hopefully progressing to higher qualifications.

During the participatory sessions he riffed with one of our professional performers and we saw the impact this had on the whole group. It was clear that they loved hearing him play. We asked Khalil if he would join the ensemble to perform in our work-in-progress performances in Blyth and Tarset.

Music can often have an emotional impact on the audience and Khalil was playing traditional music that is not often heard in the UK.  He played both the tanbur (saz) and percussion and joined the cast in singing a Northumbrian folk song. He had not performed in public before, nor had he used other percussion instruments in such as a creative way (i.e. to highlight story narrative).

Whilst working with Khalil we realised that whilst his tanbur(saz) was playable, it was quite damaged. When he travelled from Turkey to Britain he had been unable to carry it on the plane and it was placed, unprotected, in the hold of the aircraft where it was badly cracked. We approached a local funder, Finn Family Foundation, to ask if they would be willing to fund the repair of his instrument and pay for a carrying case. We attempted to have the instrument repaired but it quickly became clear that the cost of repairing it would exceed its value. With the support of the funder we then sought a replacement instrument.

“I would just like to thank everyone here at November Club, I’m really enjoying my time with you.”

We know that Khalil really enjoyed the experience, to hear his side of the story watch the short film clip below.

Khalil was a real asset to the company and integrated well with our professional acting ensemble. We hope he will return to join us in the tour of Lost, Found and Told: New Tales for Northumberland across Northumberland but need your help to do so. If you would like to support Khalil and make a donation to help us fund his involvement with the company click here.