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Camaraderie and challenges: Direct Provision centre residents stage play set in laundry room

Residents of a Direct Provision centre took to the Abbey Theatre stage last week in a play that evokes the camaraderie and challenges of being an asylum seeker. The cast and director talk to Maggie Armstrong

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From left: Fundi, Israel, writer Tina Noonan, Annastasia, actor Kevin Olohan, Idah and Anar rehearsingThe Linen Room at the Peacock Theatre. Photo by Mark Condren

From left: Fundi, Israel, writer Tina Noonan, Annastasia, actor Kevin Olohan, Idah and Anar rehearsingThe Linen Room at the Peacock Theatre. Photo by Mark Condren

From left: Fundi, Israel, writer Tina Noonan, Annastasia, actor Kevin Olohan, Idah and Anar rehearsingThe Linen Room at the Peacock Theatre. Photo by Mark Condren

The setting is a Direct Provision centre, filled to capacity with 100 people of many ages and backgrounds living side by side. Where does the drama happen? In the linen room, doing laundry, as Review learned at a new play performed by residents of one centre last week, staged as part of the Abbey's 5x5 community development series.

The work-in-progress, The Linen Room, was devised by Wicklow writer Tina Noonan with assistant director Seamus Quinn and 11 performers from all over the world who stepped on stage for the first time on February 21 to an invited audience at the Peacock in Dublin.

The cast came from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Guatemala, Albania, Iraq, Mongolia and other places - supported in no small way by Wicklow actor Kevin Olohan. What they all have in common is their temporary accommodation, in the former Grand Hotel in Wicklow Town which has operated as a Direct Provision centre since November 2018, now housing 100 people from 28 countries.