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'Lost/Found' puts stories of immigrants center stage in Pittsburgh

| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:14 p.m.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
A curious Lana Ibraheem, 2, orginally of Iraq, now of Brentwood, listens to the music of the Allstar Refudzi Band from Praque who were performing at Market Square Friday, June 20, 2014. The event was part of World Refuge Day.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Folks get into the music of the Allstar Refjudzi Band from Prague during a concert at Market Square Friday, June 20, 2014. The band and Archa Theatre will be performing June 28 and 29th at the Alphabet City Tent on the Northside. The event was part of World Refuge Day. he

Sometimes, a theater, a stage and professional performers can be a little too much for a production.

Sometimes, a story can be better told by the people living it.

“We are not trying to be global or political,” says Jana Svobodova. “We are trying to show people who are strong in what they are doing.”

Svobodova is director of “Lost/Found: Finding Refuge in Pittsburgh,” a play that will tell the stories of four people who have come to this city to find a life after leaving their homelands. She is the artistic director of Archa Theatre, a group based in Prague.

The play will be presented June 28 and 29 at four open-air sites in the North Side, ending with a concert at the Alphabet City Tent of City of Asylum, which is sponsoring the event.

The North Side-based City of Asylum provides refuge for persecuted writers and also has become involved in using the arts help to improve the neighborhood.

The concert will be presented by the 16-piece Allstar Refjudzi (Czech pronunciation of “refugee”) Band, led by Michael Romanyshyn, a Massachusetts native who became involved with the theater in a similar production in 2008.

The audience will be divided into four groups that will each go to one of the sites and then be led by musicians to others, he and Svobodova say. At the end of the tour, the four groups will unite for the concert.

Svobodova says the plays are the stories of four new residents of Pittsburgh from Bhutan, Nepal, Congo and Iraq. She says City of Asylum staffers made contact with them and found out information about them before the Archa troupe arrived, making its job simpler.

R. Henry Reese, founder and president of City of Asylum, says the group got involved with Archa through its participation in an arts management peer group. Members of a New York City group said Archa and City of Asylum were similar in their work and might want to get in touch with each other, he says.

Romanyshyn says he was contacted by Archa to develop music for a performance called “Dance Through the Fence” that was a little similar to “Lost/Found.” In it, five stories of the anti-immigration movement were told. In between each, the orchestra played songs in a variety of languages and from a variety of sources.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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