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‘I thought he was being sent to war’: Refugee shares trauma onstage

There was a weird moment, the morning he was leaving but they kept it hushed … I was woken up in the early hours of the morning and I was told to spend time with my brother,” he said.

“In my mind with everything that was going on, I thought he was being sent to war.

“There was that anxiety that had built up in me and I won’t ever forget that feeling of not wanting to let go of him.

“I thought the longer I hugged him, the longer I could keep him here and keep him safe.

“He ran away from Iran before he was thrown in the truck and taken and we didn’t have much contact with him for a few years while he was transiting¬†from Iran to Pakistan, Afghanistan and India to get to [Australia].”

Doostkhah migrated to Australia with his parents and teenage sister two years before the war ended to reunite with his brother in Townsville, after more than a decade apart.

“As soon as I saw my brother I had an estrangement to him. I had a moment where I thought I didn’t know who this is,” he said.

“He then picked up and held me. The moment I realised he was no stranger, that feeling I couldn’t shake, all just washed away.”

The Brisbane resident found his passion for storytelling and performing arts in his 20s but only recently made the decision to pursue a career on stage.

Doostkhah said he was proud to be delivering a real, impactful and meaningful performance.

“This is the first time I felt like there’s a full theatre company with a reputation that wants to get behind this method of storytelling,” he said.

“In traditional theatre, you are cast into a role and embody that role.

“In this instance, we were given free range and we are well within our skin, re-living our experiences that forced all of us individual trauma or tension.”

Mr Doostkhah said he wanted the audience to take away a new perspective from his performance in The Neighbourhood.

The Neighbourhood will open on February 8 at La Boite Theatre and run until February 29.

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