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The true story of a young mum’s search for refuge and belonging in Newcastle inspires a new play opening this week as part of Freedom City Festival

“I tell him that you don’t know what I have been through… for us to be here. You have to work hard. Nothing comes from the sky to your hands…”

From the Sky to Your Hands which opens at Live Theatre this week and runs from Wednesday 8 to Saturday 11 November tells the true story of Joana Geronimo who came to Newcastle with her baby son Osvaldo as refugees from Angola in 2003.

The play is performed by Joana herself, and tells, in her own words, with music and humour, her story of parenthood, longing and belonging. From The Sky To Your Hands is part of the current Freedom City 2017, a city-wide programme marking the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. receiving an honorary degree from Newcastle University.

Joana is supported by young actors from Live’s Youth Theatre including her now teenage son Osvaldo. Youth Theatre Members Finn Armstrong, Isobel Donkin, Kalem Patterson, Elizabeth Guariento, Monica Hardcastle, Dawn Hardcastle and Ore Olajide, aged between 13 and 21 provide a dramatic and musical chorus to the performance.

In 2008 Joana took part in From Home To Newcastle, a Live Theatre verbatim piece about asylum seekers and refugees. Following that project Joana joined Live’s Youth Theatre, and has since become a drama worker and actress. Almost ten years later this new play catches up with Joana – how things have changed for her and her family, including Osvaldo, now a typical Geordie teenager.

Joana Geronimo said:

“I want to use the voice I have to show the audience that not everything the press says about refugees is true. There is a story behind every refugee. I’m just telling mine.”

Paul James, Director of the play, and Senior Creative Associate at Live Theatre said:

Through her own words From The Sky to Your Hands contrasts Joana’s experiences arriving and settling in North East, with that of her son, brought up in Newcastle. The cast of talented young people drawn from Live’s Youth Theatre provide a poignant and musical chorus to the play. Reflecting the Freedom City festival themes of racism, poverty and freedom it promises to be a thought-provoking and moving play.”

Original music and vocal arrangements of soul and gospel songs performed by the chorus are by Mariam Rezaei whose previous musical direction includes Your Aunt Fanny at Live Theatre and Cinema by Zendeh.

Freedom City 2017 features a large-scale outdoor event, thought-provoking theatre, inspiring exhibitions, uplifting musical performances, world-class academic research and more. Inspired by the themes of Dr King’s acceptance speech at Newcastle University, Freedom City 2017 brings international artists, musicians, filmmakers, academics and community groups together to inspire them to help tackle the three ‘urgent and great problems’ highlighted in Dr King’s speech ‘the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war’.

A free Meet the Creative Team event will take place after the performance on Thursday 9 November in which the writer, director and cast members discuss issues raised in the play with Julian Prior, Chief Executive of Action Foundation and Dr. Mohamed Nasreldin, Director of North of England Refugee Service, charities that work with refugees in the region.  Tickets are £10-£14, over 60s £12 and other concessions £6.  

From The Sky To Your Hands is at Live Theatre from Wednesday 8 to Saturday 11 November, 7.30pm and Saturday 11 November, 2pm and is suitable for ages 13+.  For more information or to book tickets visit or contact Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.

  • Arts Council England
  • Community Foundation
  • European Regional Development Fund


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