The stories of the Lost Boys of Sudan are being brought back to life through a play showing now at Herberger Theater in Phoenix.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Julie Amparano Garcia, writing certificate director and lecturer at Arizona State University, was inspired to record the stories of the Lost Boys when one of them began taking her classes.
“He told me his stories and it was just so amazing,” she said. “I just started thinking these stories can’t be lost... They are so happy all the time. Despite all the terrible things they’ve been through they have one of the brightest outlooks on life that I have ever seen. Maybe it is because they’ve been close to death. They know how to appreciate life.”
The Lost Boys are a group of 20,000 boys who were orphaned or displaced during the second Sudanese Civil War. The boys were given a chance to come to America and become American citizens in the early 2000s. Many of them settled in Arizona and have gone on to get college degrees. Since 2006 they’ve been returning to Sudan to try to help their villages rebuild.
Amparano received a grant from the Arizona Humanities Commission and the Social Justice Fund to record the oral history of the boys. So far she has recorded 20 oral histories, which can be found in the ASU Digital Depository, and collected more than 75 short bios and photos.
From those stories, Amparano wrote her workshop production, “Lost Boys Found.”
“This play will be their narrative,” she said. “You’ll be hearing the real words and the real experiences of the Lost Boys. It’s broken into sections. The first is what happened to their villages and how did war come to them, how did they get separated from their families. The next part is how they traveled across Sudan in areas that were really arid to make it to the refugee camps. The next section is on the refugee camps themselves and life there. The last part is them coming to America.”
The show is being presented during the Hergerberger Theater’s Lunch Time Theater now through Thursday, May 15. The show is about 35 minutes. Amparano said she is working on a full-length production that she expects to come out in spring or fall of 2015.
“War is constant,” she said. “Kids are being displaced constantly. In this particular narrative it’s the Lost Boys, but right now it’s Syria and the Ukraine and children are being displaced there. As I develop the play further I want to incorporate some kind of narrator that talks about war in other places. These are the boys who escaped and got free, but what about the other children? I want (the audience) to take away that war is terrible on every level, but nowhere is it worse than for the children. They have their homes burnt to the ground and no place to go and without education and they’ve done nothing at all.”
For more information on the play or to purchase tickets, visit herbergertheater.com.
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