Q&A: Ayeesha Ash of La Boîte’s The Village

Q&A: Ayeesha Ash of La Boîte’s The Village

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Ayeesha Ash is Assistant Director of La Boîte’s The Village. A “collaboration with refugee resettlement agency MDA Ltd, The Village immerses the audience in the real stories of refugees and people seeking asylum who have made Australia their home”. Emma caught up with Ayeesha to chat about her professional life, her role within The Village, and why the production is such an important one.


Emma Kate Lewis: Hey Ayeesha, please can you start by telling me a little about yourself and what you do?

Ayeesha Ash: Hello! I’m a 24 year old Australian artist. I was born in St. George’s, Grenada (a tiny island in the Caribbean) to a Grenadian father and Maori mother. Mum was born & raised in Australia (she’s a Surry Hills girl) and she wanted to raise me here, so when I was 6 weeks old we travelled back to Aus and settled in Brisbane.

My passion for creativity and performing started in the form of after school dance, drama and singing classes until my ‘hobbies’ became my life.

At the end of grade 9 I moved high schools to go to the Queensland Academy for Creative Industries; the teachers were really passionate about the arts and encouraged me to pursue a creative career path. After high school I moved to Perth to study acting at WAAPA and then when I graduated I made the move to Sydney. I’ve been based in Sydney for about 3 and a half years now, acting, writing and directing, and am also the co-creative director of Black Birds. I like to do a lot of different things – variety keeps me more inspired and stops me from getting in a creative rut. I’m also studying a Bachelor of Communications (Social & Political Studies) at the University of Technology Sydney.

EKL: What’s been the most challenging aspect of your role as Assistant Director of The Village so far?

AA: The Village has been a huge eye opener.

There’s so much factual information that we, as a society, are unaware of when it comes to refugees and asylum seekers. It’s challenging, but so important that this work tells as much of this information as possible in a way that includes people in the conversation rather than excluding them.

The storytellers are being so generous in sharing their experiences and Assistant Director I have to ensure that they know that they are completely supported.

EKL: What’s been the most rewarding?

AA: Getting to know the storytellers! They are so full of joy and love, and are some of the most generous people I have ever met.

They have lived through more than I could ever imagine, but the power of their spirit is so strong. None of them are victims of their circumstance.

Their stories have given me a deeper understanding of the refugee and asylum seeker experiences in this country and I hope that people really listen to what they have to say.

EKL: Can you tell me a bit about your other projects, such as Black Birds, and what they mean to you?

AA: Black Birds was formed in 2015 by Emele Ugavule & myself as a response to the lack of representation and misrepresentation of Women of Colour in the Australian arts scene.

It started as a way to have a continual conversation about what it’s like to be a third culture kid, be mixed race, have Afro hair and brown skin, and try and fit into a place where people constantly tell you that you don’t belong. It’s really important to us to create work that tells stories that are often ignored by the major players in the media & the arts and for all people to see themselves represented in society.

We create work in all different mediums (film, theatre, visual art), and recently opened our first full length self-titled show at The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre. We’ve done work in Sydney & Melbourne but would love to travel our existing works and create new works all over Australia & the world. Our next live work, Pehe, will be performed as part of Bondi Feast (Sydney) on the 18th-20th of July.

EKL: The Village sounds like an incredibly important production. What’s your favourite thing about being a part of it, and what can audiences expect to take away from the performance?

AA: I’m so thrilled that I have been able to be a part of The Village. The content of the work is so important and needs to be heard. There is a deep trust & respect between the cast and creatives which I think has been pivotal in helping the work flourish.

Non Aboriginal Australians, myself included, need to remember that we are all guests in this country, and that we are all equal.

We all have a story and we all come from somewhere. I hope that this experience encourages compassion and starts a conversation about refugees and asylum seekers in this country.


The Village runs at La Boîte until the 26th of May and tickets are selling fast. Grab yours here!

Answers by Ayeesha Ash

Images and Featured Image provided by La Boîte

Questions and Edits by Emma Kate Lewis

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