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Preview: Same Same Different at Durham Gala Theatre

Same Same Different
Durham Gala Theatre
Saturday 4th May 2019

Written By Naomi Sumner Chan
Directed By Alyx Tole
Produced By Benedict Power
Commissioned by Eclipse Theatre in partnership with York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre.

Same Same Different is an original and affecting new verbatim play about adoption, identity and belonging that gives adoptees from all over the world the chance to share their adoption story in their own words. It will be at Durham Gala Theatre on Saturday 4th May.

Inspired by writer, Naomi Sumner Chan’s own experience of being adopted from Hong Kong into a White British family, the play invites the audience to join Naomi in exploring her personal and cultural identity. She connects with many other adopted families and individuals, who we meet along the way, with a diverse ensemble of actors presenting the many different voices, identities and experiences that Naomi encounters.

“As a Trans-racial adoptee myself, I wanted to create a piece of work that prioritised the adoptee voice and put that front and centre. Often adoption narratives are Adoptive Parent centric and focus on the parent’s story or the process of adoption. This play is different as it provides adopted children and adults the opportunity to tell their own stories in their own words.”

Adoption Isn’t The End Of The Story But The Start Of A Whole New Life!

“The focus is on day to day family life and dynamics in their adoptive family, and their sense of place and self rather than the adoption process. The aim is for adoptees to speak honestly and explode some of the myths and misconceptions around adoption. I hope the play will be helpful for adoptive families who may be struggling with bonding and cohesion to feel less alone, by knowing other people are going through or have experienced similar situations.”

By focusing on what adoptees perceive as the similarities and differences between themselves and their family members, Naomi asks: does nature or nurture most influence a person’s identity? A question that ultimately leads her back to her own sense of self and where she feels she belongs.

“I think the initial premise - the idea that an adoptee can feel alienated from their family or have differences of feeling - was something that I had never really thought about before. It was really interesting to hear those perspectives, and also to know that they were verbatim, from interviews, that really was exciting and interesting.” Lucy Hammond – Pilot Theatre

Extensive research, continued engagement with adoptees, and the verbatim text makes this an authentic story, and audiences can find out more about the realities of the life of adoptees through discussion after each performance with the writer and invited guests; including other adoptees, social workers and academics.

While celebrities such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie have raised the profile of Trans-racial, inter-country adoption, the practice has recently come under scrutiny. In 2017 the Netherlands considered a ban on inter-country adoption, following a report published by the Ministry of Justice that found the adoption process can be used as a front for child trafficking, and last year Ethiopia placed a ban on adoption of children by foreign Nationals. With respected and established organisations like Comic Relief recently being accused of a ‘White Saviour’ approach to support for developing countries, strong feelings and differences of opinion are emerging around these complex inter-cultural relationships.
Yrrah Van Der Kruit, an advisor at the Council for the Administration of Criminal Justice and Protection of Juveniles and one of the Dutch report’s authors, said: “If we really want to help the child, [inter-country] adoption has to stop.  For as long as rich countries continue to drive a market of adoption from poorer countries, we will have this problem, and the poor countries will not put the necessary developments in place to support their own children.”
Commissioned by Eclipse through their SLATE programme - designed to promote and develop work by BAME artists in the UK - the play has been developed in partnership with York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre. This North of England tour is also made possible through support from Arts Council England and The Unity Theatre Trust.

“It was interesting to hear verbatim, the perspectives of adoptees and is a reminder of the impact our decision making has on children." Social Worker – Caritas Care

Naomi began writing for the stage in 2013 with work performed at Oldham Coliseum Theatre, The Arcola and Theatre 503. An alumni of the National Theatre’s Step Change programme, Naomi also works as a freelance script reader for The National Theatre Studio, The Royal Exchange Theatre, Sheffield Theatres and Papatango. She has recently completed the ADLP Leaders of Tomorrow programme, a leadership course for BAME creatives who want to change the face of British theatre and was also selected for the Artistic Directors of the Future Board Shadowing Programme in Yorkshire.

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Age Guidelines: Suitable for children 12 and over.

Same Same Different will be at Gala Theatre, Durham on Saturday 4th May at 8.00pm. Tickets are £12/£10 and available from  or by calling the box office on 0300 266 600.

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