This community garden is throwing an Iraqi dinner party like no other

For one week, running from March 16-24, the Parents Café at Sydney's Fairfield High School is turning its community garden into a dinner party location and everybody's welcome! 

Performance Youth Theatre (PYT) Fairfield is a theatre company that gives a voice and a platform to local projects embracing diverse cultures and aims to support and engage communities through their creative works. 

This one-off event, Little Baghdad: Cafes and gardens is just that. Set inside the Parents Café garden, the evening unfolds around an Iraqi dinner party. 

By day, the garden houses a commercial kitchen and community centre for refugees. By night, this space will be transformed into a surprising and intimate evening of Iraqi food, culture and storytelling as “audiences” experience authentic Iraqi culture. 

"We hope people enjoy the experience of theatre presented in this peaceful café garden setting. But even more importantly, we hope they learn a little more about Iraqi culture and the warmth and vibrancy of the community, " says PYT Artistic Director Karen Therese. 

Showcasing everything from live music and video art installations to slam poetry and storytelling, the evening comes together over a shared meal. 

On arrival, Australian-Iraqi locals will greet you. You can take in the smell of freshly baked flatbread, as guests are invited to wander the garden setting, which will be transformed, into an art gallery and multi-media installation. 

You will then be seated on Persian rugs where a beautiful three-course Iraqi dinner will be served. You will hear locals explain traditional ways of eating Iraqi food, food customs and traditions, and everyone will then enjoy a tea and coffee ceremony. 

During the dinner party, local artists and community leaders will share their stories and the night will end in traditional Iraqi style with everyone on their feet dancing to live music. Little Bagdad aims to shine a spotlight on the Parents Café, which has been running since 2010. 

The not-for-profit has been running out of Fairfield High School and is a positive example of how important access and education has been to the community. 

Through a variety of regular workshops, training courses, seminars and events, this café has become a hub for refugees looking learn new skills, to socialise and to establish new relationships and friendships with the wider community. 

It has been such a thriving social enterprise that the United Nations has acknowledged it as one of the world’s best models of refugee resettlement practice and inter-community support. 

This warm and unique theatre-like experience will give the typical "dinner and a show" a whole new look, and we have no doubt you will leave Little Baghdad full-bellied and heart-filled. 

By Farah Celjo

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