An adaptation of Euripides’ Trojan Women featuring an all-female cast of Syrian refugees recounting their stories of loss, flight and exile is slated for a three-week tour of the United Kingdom, The Guardian reports.
Queens of Syria was first staged in 2013 in Amman, Jordan, as part of a workshop run by director Omar Abusaada. Sixty Syrian women, who had never acted before, were brought together to interpret Euripides’ celebrated anti-war tragedy, written after the ancient Athenians brutally repressed the island of Melos. In the original play, the women of Troy — fronted by Queen Hecuba — have been enslaved and are lamenting the loss of their land. The narrative lent itself to obvious parallels with the circumstances of refugee women in Jordan. “Hecuba is just like me,” one of the actresses says in a documentary about Queens of Syria. “She was the wife of the King of Troy. Then she lost everything she owns. She lost loved ones and family.”
For the actors, the tour will allow them to convey their personal tragedies and that of Syria, where a five-year war has left up to 470,000 people dead and millions homeless, precipitating the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.
Queens of Syria will premiere at the Young Vic in London, before travelling to Liverpool, Edinburgh, and other locations. “Going to London is a very good thing indeed because we can tell the whole world about our home tragedy,” Maha, one of the women in the play, told The Guardian. “And of course, in a great country like Britain, the world will listen to us.”
The UK project is a collaboration between Developing Artists, a charity working to support the arts in countries recovering from conflict, and Refuge Productions, founded by Georgina Paget and husband and wife team Charlotte Eagar and William Stirling. Refuge Productions came up with the original idea of transposing The Trojan Women to the Syrian war.To coincide with the UK tour, the British Council will provide material online for thousands of schools in the UK and across the world to enable young people to discuss issues such as exile and trauma, and think about what they can do to welcome refugees. An event is also planned to link students with the cast. “We didn’t know if anybody would turn up for the first rehearsal,” Eager said. “We didn’t know whether it would be any good and thought it would be little more than a superior school play. “But they recognised the point was to tell their story to the world as they had a sense of being ignored by the world. They felt so abandoned, but are very different now. They have a sense of self-confidence.”
May the ‘ Queens of Syria’ shine in the whole world soon and their message reach to each one.