WHEN HE WAS just 11 years old, Dritan Kastrati was sent on a perilous journey across the Adriatic, fleeing the chaotic aftermath of the Kosovan war.

Fast forward seventeen years, and he is telling his story to give hope and a voice to others, in an incredible piece of theatre which comes to Glasgow next week.

How Not to Drown tells how, having survived the dangerous voyage, Dritan’s fight for survival continued when he found himself caught up in the British care system.

Dritan plays himself at various points in the playm which has been co-written with playwright Nicola McCartney, who is herself a foster carer.

Featuring a diverse cast of five playing more than 30 characters, How Not to Drown is a vibrant story of a boy who was neither safe nor welcome anywhere in the world told through a mix of physical theatre and music on a shape-shifting set.

A conversation with a colleague who had worked with Dritan led Nicola McCartney to the project.

In an interview with our sister newspaper The Herald, she explained: “Dritan had been given a small bursary by the BBC to make his story into a piece of physical theatre, but he was finding it really hard to talk about it.

“He could only tell the funny bits, and wasn’t able to articulate what had happened to him.”

Nicola led a workshop with Kastrati and other young men, which led to one-to-one work, and added: “Within about an hour and a half he had said things he’d never said before. The first story he told me is the first scene in the play, which is based on a tradition of Albanian culture where you get thrown into the river by the bigger boys. That happened when he was six and he almost drowned, but he told it beautifully.”

Nicola is a foster carer.

“I’m familiar with that system,” she told The Herald, “and am familiar with working with asylum seekers and refugees, who don’t have any control over their own narratives or stories, which are taken away from them.

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“Dritan didn’t have a normal upbringing and he saw a lot of horrific things. But it’s a story of an ordinary kid getting thrown into an extraordinary situation.”

ThickSkin, founded by Neil Bettles and Laura Mallows, is a theatre company well-known for searching out and nurturing emerging talent and showcasing unknown artists. The team first met Dritan ten years ago through a theatre training programme for young people and since then, have mentored and supported him as a performer.

Director Neil Bettles explains: “Laura and I paused our work with ThickSkin for nearly five years to explore other projects.How Not To Drown has been a lovely way to kickstart the company into a new era. We have been quietly working on this show for over a year now and it feels good to finally bring it out into the light.

“How Not To Drown is about losing identity and place in the world. I think it rings true for all of us that feel a little lost and take extreme actions to find ourselves again. Having known Dritan Kastrati for a number of years through meeting on the Frantic Assembly Ignition project, it felt right that I come on board to support and help him realise his story on stage. For it to also welcome back ThickSkin after some years away from making work is even more special.”

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Dritan says: “This is my story, but it could be anyone’s. Just for one second imagine there is a war happening in the UK now, which direction would you run for safety? It would be awful. British families fleeing, children separated from their parents.

“But it’s happening everyday across the world. It happened to me. I wanted to share my story, in my own words, as a child coming to the UK alone. It’s a story we don’t usually hear about asylum seekers.

“It’s not a sad story - actually parts of it are pretty funny, but it is truthful and sometimes painful.”

How Not to Drown is at the Tron Theatre from Wednesday to Saturday next week (September 11 to 14).

Book by calling 0141 552 4267 or visit www.tron.co.uk.