The Tribe

Belvoir The Tribe photo by Catherine CranstonAfter seeing its acclaimed debut season at the 2015 Sydney Festival, Belvoir were keen to bring Urban Theatre Projects’ The Tribe from the streets of Sydney’s west into their own backyard in Surry Hills. Not figuratively either: it actually is a show for the intimacy of the humble back garden, and that’s where they are presenting it – in an assortment of Surry Hills backyards.

Performed by the inimitable Hazem Shammas (Mother Courage and Her Children, Scorched), this is a story of belonging, told by Bani as a small boy finding his way in a young country by recounting tales of an old country – and at the heart of it all, his love for his grandmother.

She’s the core presence in Bani’s life, carrying all the truths of The Tribe – a small Muslim sect who fled to Australia from Lebanon. Hazem’s Bani is like a visionary child channelling a Bedouin storyteller – all amongst the Hills Hoists, paling fences, frangipani and jasmine of the Sydney yard.

“The Tribe is my attempt to counteract the limited and simplistic representation that the Arab-Australian Muslim community of Western Sydney has received to date, and to offer a broader, more intimate understanding,” said writer Michael Mohammed Ahmad. “It is also an act of self-determination – a declaration of the right to reclaim and tell our own stories in our own way.”

In this beautiful production, Ahmad’s novella becomes an open invitation – to listen to an Arab-Australian story from our backyard, in our backyards. A very special event.

Michael Mohammed Ahmad was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s 2015 Best Young Novelists. His novella The Tribe was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award 2015 (UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing) and the Readings New Australian Writing Award 2014. It was also nominated for the 2015 Voss Literary Prize.

Based on the novel by: Michael Mohammed Ahmad  Adapted by: Michael Mohammed Ahmad & Janice Muller  Director: Janice Muller  Performer: Hazem Shammas  Composer/Performer: Oonagh Sherrard  Designer/Operator: Frank Mainoo

The Tribe
Backyards in Surry Hills – meet at Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills
Season: 20 January – 7 February 2016 (preview: 19 January)
Bookings: (02) 9699 3444 or online at:

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Hazem Shammas in The Tribe – photo by Catherine Cranston