3 Min Read

Learning and Love- Not Far from the Tree

Not Far from the Tree is an intimate, fun and eye-opening look into identity and family. A story that spans across generations and countries from Algeria to Perth, the show, written by Sabrina Hafid and directed by Laura Liu, engages a semi-autobiographical storytelling experience.

Walking into the space, designed by Nikita Bernardo, feels like walking into someone’s home. Family photos and a kitchen setting welcome us in, we’re even offered freshly baked bread, alongside a stuffed puppet sat on a chair dressed in a suit.

Sabrina’s storytelling moves between time and space. The show follows her father from Algeria, her sister’s experience in Australia, the puppet (representing corruption in Algeria) and then herself and her own experiences. Using a microphone Sabrina plays with voice effects to portray different characters. We are also addressed in a more personal current voice that ties parts of the story together.

Not Far from the Tree. Photography by Mustafa Al Mahdi.

The show is colourful and full of sensory material (such as the bread) but for me the greatest element is the humour. The specificity and the warmth of Sabrina as a performer wins the audiences favour quickly. Within these moments of humour, the story becomes less of a reflection and more an active telling experience. This is very important to ensure we are not lost or lulled by such a reflective mood.

The fact that Sabrina is a teacher as well as artist is refreshingly evident and I learnt so much about Algeria and the plight of families, such as Sabrina’s. The show exemplifies the ability theatre has to be a means of communication and learning. 

The show has space to grow even further. I would have loved to see some of the explorations on a larger scale, or more deeply unpacked through elements such as costume which could potentially pull us into different time periods.

Not Far from the Tree. Photography by Mustafa Al Mahdi.

Not Far from the Tree is a highly poignant and educational look into family and identity against the backdrop of persona and social developments. While it is fun and bright in parts, most of all, Sabrina Hafid allows us to see how important her story is to her- and that is powerful to see.

In a world where identity is often seen as a battleground, we are reminded that the stories of our past can be a strength and embraced with pride.

Not Far from the Tree is on now at The Blue Room Theatre until May 6.