From the Syrian mountains to the stage in London

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Former student Hamzeh Al Hussien is taking to the stage and wowing audiences across the country.

The play Penguin is performed and co-created by Hamzeh in his professional debut solo show. The play tells his own personal story of an incredible life and takes audiences on a tour of the places he knows best: his village in the Syrian mountains, the Za’atari camp in Jordan, his home in Gateshead.

Hamzeh, a disabled artist from Syria arrived in Gateshead five years ago as part of the UK’s Syrian Resettlement Programme. He was first introduced to performing during his six years in Za'atari refugee camp. He joined the college in 2018 on our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course and then progressed through to achieve both a HNC and HND in Performing Arts.

Hamzeh said “As a disabled man, I want to show the audience what I can do and that I am able to achieve whatever I want despite my disability. I hope people come away thinking ‘don’t give up, just keep trying’. I love music, so there’s lots of dance and movement in the show. This is the story of a journey, my journey, and it’s all true.”

Penguin is directed by Amy Golding who founded Curious Monkey in 2013 to share stories of underrepresented communities. She said: “Penguin really highlights how one person’s normal can be another person’s extraordinary. The show is intimate and personal, as well as funny - the audience will be invited into his world and it will feel really special to get to know him.” Penguin opened at the Live Theatre in Newcastle with the tour heading to London, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and finishing back in the North East at the Arts Centre in Washington.

Steve Forester- Melville, Curriculum Leader for Music and Performing Arts at the college said “It’s fantastic to see Hamzeh taking his own show on tour. He’s not only a truly talented performer but also a gifted writer and Penguin is testament to all his hard work. We’re all so proud of him.”

Wed Dec 06 2023