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"Border Avenue" is the title of a new play about refugees and asylum seekers crossing the border at Emerson.

This two-year project is a documentary-style play that investigates the influx the border saw last year, and looks at the refugee crisis from a local perspective.

The production is put on by the University of Winnipeg, Asper Centre for Theatre One Trunk Theatre, and spearheaded by theatre artists Andraea Sartison, Liam Zarrillo, and photojournalist Caroline Wintoniw.

"It's also inspired by the stories of Razak Iyal and Seidu Mohammed, who came across the border themselves in December 2016 and lost their hands to frostbite," said artist Andraea Sartison.

She explained they interviewed Iyal and Mohammed and created characters and texts based on the interviews.

"One of our partners is a photojournalist and she was called down to Emerson, Manitoba, to shoot some photo and video of people coming across the border," said Sartison.

The team was inspired by the story, the town, media, RCMP, and the asylum seekers involved. People who live or work in Emerson may even recognize themselves in some of the play's characters.

"We do feature a lot of characters from Emerson... we spent time talking to people at the hotel, at the bar, and the RCMP and the media. We were very inspired by the people that we met there," said Sartison, adding they made an effort to accurately portray people.

Creating the play was a long process. The creative team gathered their information by visiting Emerson frequently and interviewing townspeople and those who crossed. They would stay up late in cars parked along Boundary Avenue, waiting with law enforcement officers and media for people to cross.

The docudrama is said to show multiple perspectives on the issue, as well as celebrate community.

The play will be held at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film May 23 - 27.

Five dollars from every ticket sold will be donated to Razak and Seidu to support their rehabilitation and integration in Winnipeg.

Tickets are $10-$25 and available at

play 1

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