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Olive Jar Cast Interviews: Miriam 

We caught up with another young and spirited member of our cast, Miriam, who gave us a look into space for representation and the growth of reviving Olive Jar one year onwards. 

Who are you and what is your role in the show?

So, I am one of the workshop participants, “workshop employees”, and my role in this show- apart from like everybody else, looking after the jars, looking after the stories- is to tell my story and a friend’s story, which is a big task.

What do you have to do to get into the zone of telling both your personal narrative and expressing someone’s story? How does the two compare?

They are quite different, when it’s your own story…you…you don’t feel a sense of responsibility like when you are telling someone else’s story. I think, um, when I was telling Nasrin story it was- I tried to take as much from her energy as possible, because I imagined the energy she’s telling the story with is what she would have probably experienced and imagined, she was quite, you know, as a young girl in that time- having gone through something like that in her life, I tried to capture that as best as I could.

How does it feel to perform both on the original run of Olive Jar and now in it’s revival?

The two runs have been quite different. The first time it was a lot of nerves, it was new to us and I think because the workshops stages were a lot closer, we felt that movement of the stories going towards that performance end (the final show). But this time round we did this with a bit more distance, so for me, personally, I had to find some time to reflect on where I came from. Because I am completely new to theatre, so it took me time to sit back and be like- think back on where I came from, where this all started, the stories. Yeah. It is different.

Have you grown or changed from the start of the show’s journey?

Definitely. I- If you told me I was going to do this two years ago, absolutely not- ABSOLUTELY NOT. I got so much stage fright the first time round, I was really scared because it was my first time getting up on a stage like that. But this time round I was able to play around a bit more. Have fun and enjoy it.

Why do you think it is important to tell these narratives, and its urgency in our current climate? 

I see the stage as a platform for us, I think of all these voices, perhaps voices that didn’t get as much volume beforehand. And the stage, like I said, is a platform, it is a way for them to take a step up and be heard a little bit more.

And (Importance) Yes, 100 percent. I think especially some of the stories in there are really directly connected to a lot of the events that are prevalent right now and a lot of people might be watching what’s happening in the news and not really connecting the human stories. And I think Olive Jar does that, it’s connecting the real, because what you are looking at on the stage are real people who actually went through those real events, you know? Just having that human connection is so important.

Does the element of having community members playing these parts leave a big change in delivery/impact (opposed to actors performing their words)? 

I’ve always said this, I’m like representation is good, but it’s not enough, you know what’s more important? Is presence. We need to look at the presence of these perhaps silent voices in our communities and meet them where they are, as opposed to trying to constantly make them fit the mold, make their story palatable, make their story sellable, make them- you know. Instead, take them from where they are, from the community, put them on the stage, tell them how they want it (to be told).

One of the things that is done really well (with the show) is that everyone got to tell the story how they wanted to tell the story. Someone said I’m not comfortable telling this part, then this character says I don’t even want to tell a story- and that itself was a story. That’s what I think is special about Olive Jar. definitely.

Did building Olive Jar create a new community (a family) by sharing these experiences together? 

Yeah, yeah, we became a community, definitely. Because also we learnt so much from each other, from our stories, but also like from the different places we come from because the Arab community is not one thing, we are just this huge plafour of different things. We are literally so diverse and that’s one thing that comes out of Olive Jar, how similar and different we are at the same time.

Why should someone come and see the show?

Come to experience it- if you want to cry and laugh, and at the same time connect with real people on the stage. What’s really nice about Olive Jar is you feel very close to the action, you feel very close to what’s happening on the stage. So if you want that connection knowing that this is people from our communities, these are our people. And if you want to cry and laugh and have a good time, then yeah Olive Jar is for you!

Final comments?

I’d like to just thank every single person who’s worked behind the scenes doing just incredible work. I-when I walk in and see the musicians, I see the lighting people, I see people like yourself, l see Phayaphi, I see like everyone in the Grand Junction team, everyone at the behind the scenes doing the work they are doing…it’s really inspiring to watch…because all of these people come together to create one thing.

It’s not something that I’d ever- like, I’m coming to this from completely an outsider, to me this whole world is new and it’s like…I’ve said it so many times, I said it to the musicians “I walk in and see you guys, just practicing your chords, that’s it. To me it’s so magical” walking into this chapel as well- so it’s yeah. Those people deserve a big big round of applause because they really do amazing work.

Interview conducted by Anayis N. Der Hakopian

To hear about shapeshifters and tea, make sure to grab you tickets to Olive Jar for performances taking place on Thursday 25th to Saturday 27th at the Grand Junction.