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Paston College drama students given a unique lesson in character development from War Child ambassador

6th February 2018

Twenty drama students from Paston College have been given a unique lesson in character development from fellow student and War Child Ambassador, Oscar, ahead of their production of Illyria which focuses on the life and struggles of those living in a war-torn country. Oscar shared his own personal experiences of the hardship he endured during the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo to help the cast broaden their understanding of topics covered in the production.

During the session, Oscar discussed the issue of power and terror, brutality of language, dictatorships and day to day life in a country torn apart by civil war which are all topics covered in Bryony Lavery’s play, Illyria. Through exploring these subjects, the cast have been able to hone their performances to reflect the behaviour traits and actions of their characters. They have also decided to help raise awareness of the War Child charity by donating a proportion of their ticket sales. 

At a young age, Oscar was forced to flee the Congo with his family which led to them living in a refugee camp in Uganda. Due to the difficulty in obtaining supplies such as clean water, food and medical support at the camp, Oscar sadly lost members of his family and became the guardian of his younger brother and sister. 

Following this tragic event, Oscar and his siblings were given a new start in England through an official refugee programme which gave them the opportunity to attend school. Oscar completed his GCSEs in 2017 and is now a student at Paston College where he studies medical science, biology and film studies. He is hoping to go onto University and possibly become a film director.

To raise awareness of those who face similar struggles, Oscar works as an Ambassador for the charity War Child. As part of this role, Oscar has been selected to introduce Ed Sheeran on stage at The O2 in London on Monday 19th February as part of the War Child BRITs Week events. 

After Oscar’s session, Tilda Fassih, 18, from Sheringham, who is playing the character, Theresa, said:

Oscar’s talk was an invaluable experience. When rehearsing, at times, it was just lines. Now I understand it. Before it was just Far East Theatre at Paston College on a Wednesday afternoon, now its Illyria and it seems real

Oscar said:

Talking to your peers is very different to the talks I usually give. It was a very different atmosphere, but it was a really great feeling - I liked it. The main thing I wanted to convey to the cast was that the events covered in the play are very complex and that everyone would have their own way of dealing with them because everyone has their own way of being human.

Speaking about his role in Ed Sheeran’s performance on Monday 19th February, Oscar said:

I’m feeling good about it. For some reason, perhaps because of my experiences, I don’t get nervous, it just happens.

Simon Thompson, Director of Illyria and Lecturer at Paston College said:

Oscar is an amazing speaker and communicator who quickly helped us to understand the central issues of the stories covered in the play and their purpose. We have all benefited from Oscar’s words and experiences which have helped the students ground their characters and acting choices. It has also helped make a subject, that has at times seemed so far removed from our own experiences, real and relevant. We’re thrilled to be able to stage this production and are proud to be raising funds through ticket sales for the War Child charity.

The Paston College Far East Theatre Company’s production of Illyria will be performed at The Griffon Theatre at Paston College at 7:30pm on Tuesday 6th, Wednesday 7th and Friday 9th February with a matinee performance at 2:30pm on Wednesday 7th February. Tickets are £5 (£3 concessions), with proceeds being donated to War Child, and are available by calling the box office on 01692 402 334. The show is not suitable for those under 16 years of age.