One-woman show looks at war through child’s eyes

Ifrah Mansour's performances of "How to Have Fun in a Civil War" feature a fabric puppet she calls "grandma." Mansour is a Somalian refugee artist, photographed on abandoned railroad tracks with a puppet of her grandma used in her performance piece that she keeps in the storage facility Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, on the southside of Minneapolis/David Joles | Star Tribune
This weekend, Ifrah Mansour performs her one-woman show, “How to Have Fun in a Civil War,” at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

The show is not only suitable for kids — it’s told from a child’s point of view.

She says she wrote the play based on her own experience as a young child refugee fleeing Somalia. In an interview with MPR News, she said the show is suitable for kids ages 6 and up.

Highlights from the interview:

“My family, at the time, lived in the capital. This is right around ’91, ’92, and that is when the second wave of the civil war was taking place, and a lot of folks were fleeing the capital.

Our family didn’t think it was that unsafe, we had assumed it was something that was going to subside. And we would just go to somewhere safe, my auntie’s house. Little did we know that was the last time we were going to see our house.


I remember our family not taking important stuff, because why would we do that? We’ll just take a little bit of clothing, a quick change for the children. My dad came in with sugar. … we all remembered to take the sugar with us, but not our passports, not our family photos or other important items.

“I am going back to these experiences that might be a lot more traumatic for my older family, but for my younger siblings, we would say, ‘Yeah! I remember actually feeling excited about that experience.

I remember actually enjoying the car ride, or enjoying getting to see a different place.’ But our parents are like, ‘We were fleeing for our lives. What are you talking about, enjoying?’ It has also been re-traumatizing, because you’re learning how things were a lot more difficult than you had imagined.

“It’s been interesting to watch the media coverage of the Syrian refugee experience. Because I remember those walks that my family did. But it’s been very important to affirm that we have to find a way to talk about these difficult things, for us to learn and for us to connect honestly. I hope it is an opportunity for us to connect, especially within the Somali community.”


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