When Oliver Twist was just four, his parents – one Hutu, one Tutsi – gathered their family and fled their homeland, following the 1994 Rawandan genocide. Twist grew up in Malawi, first in a refugee camp, then in a house where his father could set up a tiny shop. But it soon became clear they weren’t safe there either. Eventually Twist, his mother and siblings were resettled in Australia.
Oliver Twist in Jali. Photograph © Estelle Yoon
Twist (no, his mother didn’t like Dickens, but he’ll explain the name), tells his story in Jali, his first theatre show, which was developed under Griffin Lookout, a program established to support Sydney’s most promising, independent theatre artists.
Instead of unfolding chronologically, Twist’s 60-minute solo performance jumps back and forth in time, offering a series of short scenes that capture moments in his life. He doesn’t spell everything out, he doesn’t need to, the episodes he has chosen to share are enough for us to pull it all together.
He explains, for example, how the family’s application for resettlement in Canada was rejected. He doesn’t then describe their application to come to Australia. Instead he takes us to the...