Image: Bryony Jackson

We All Know What's Happening

Samara Hersch & Lara Thoms

A neo-colonial history lesson by children.

We All Know What’s Happening is performed by seven Australian children in collaboration with seven young asylum seekers who grew up in a refugee detention centre on the Island of Nauru. The work begins in the style of a school theatre production presenting a naive history lesson. The performers reveal that from early phosphate mining to current refugee detention centres, global colonial powers have been literally placing themselves in the middle of this tiny island.


From investment money for West End musicals, to politicians closing down schools on the island, complex and absurd injustices are revealed with a childlike simplicity. Everything changes when the performance stops and children 12 years and under are asked to leave the theatre. Audiences inside the theatre hear disturbing tales of life on the island for refugee children, straight from the mouths of the performers who are child activists themselves.

“An outstanding artistic format for political urgency….A generous, vulnerable and complex artwork. Samara, Lara and the performers do not just present a story, but carefully consider their own place within this story. They use the traditional aesthetics of children’s theatre to create a common, seemingly innocent ground, which they then break up in order to unveil deep cracks in society.” – ZKB Prize Jury

“Passionate and political, affecting and entertaining, We All Know What’s Happening throws down the gauntlet to the adults in the audience” – The Age


Samara Hersch and Lara Thoms create socially engaged and political performances, often with people beyond the arts. They created We All Know What’s Happening which premiered at Arts House and has toured to Vitalstatistix, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Nooderzen Festival and Zürcher Theater Spektakel.

We All Know What’s Happening won the 2019 Swiss ZKB Patronage prize as part of Zürcher Theater Spektakel as well as the audience vote prize. It also won the Australian 2018 Green Room Award for Best Contemporary and Experimental Performance. Lara and Samara have worked together at Malthouse Theatre (A Dybbuk event) and Arts Centre Melbourne (Friends Forever workshop). Individually Samara has been touring her performance Body of Knowledge to SICK Festival, Speilart Festival and Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art. Lara has been touring The Director with Aphids to Sydney Opera House, International Theatre Festival of Kerala and ANTI Festival. Lara and Samara are currently developing two new shows, one about American border detention and another about national anthems.


Samara Hersch
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