Aseel Tayah

Lullabies Under War

Stories of women in prisons and refugee camps

This project is Lullabies Under War, a new cross-cultural production for adult audiences inspired by stories of mothers raising children in war situations, who are or have been living in refugee camps and prisons, and whose experiences of trauma will be retold through this production, in narrative, song and video form. The work builds on an initial creative development at Arts House that was undertaken in 2019 with Osama Sami and Nicole Chamoun and talented artists that aim to capture the lullabies that women in extreme situations sing to their children, and the stories of struggle, survival, and hope.

Lullabies Under War brings to Victorian audiences incredible stories and songs of motherhood survival, stories that are still relatively unknown in Australia, which depict the war refugee’s journey from chaos to a new, but foreign home. In this troubled world, the experience of motherhood has universal themes, such as selfless love and sacrifice, but what happens when one’s experience of motherhood is also encapsulated by war, prison, bombings, dislocation, grief, rockets falling from the sky, noise that no lullaby can silence? Can lullabies sung thousands of kilometres apart unite mothers no matter which war they face? When all you can hope for is to survive the day, can songs and stories bring comfort and belief in a better future?

The project is partially autoethnographic storytelling and partly formed from extensive interviews which were collected during the first creative development. Further interviews are planned in 2020 to further develop the themes and to collect more international perspectives. The work brings together stories of mothers from around some of the world’s most traumatic war zones. The focus of the work will be songs predominantly in Arabic and multilingual storytelling reflecting more than 10 dialects and nationalities.