Syrian refugees perform anti-war tragedy at Attenborough Centre
Queens of Syria, an adaptation of Euripides’ The Trojan Women, was first staged in Amman in 2013 and was the subject of an award-winning documentary.
The play skilfully blends the performers’ own narratives of ferocious war and bitter exile with the ancient Greek text about conflict and its aftermath.
Produced by Developing Artists and Refuge Productions, the three-week UK tour follows a sold-out run at London’s Young Vic theatre (5 – 9 July 2016) as part of Horizons, a season exploring the lives of refugees.
Working with the cast is young director Zoe Lafferty, whose professional experience with theatre companies such as The Old Vic and Ice&Fire has focussed on current conflicts and situations of human rights violations, and has taken her from wars in Afghanistan and Yemen, to the occupation in Palestine, humanitarian crises in Lebanon and Haiti.
In 2012 Lafferty crossed secretly into Syria to uncover the personal stories from the uprising, speaking to protesters, soldiers, activists and citizens on both sides of the conflict. The resultant verbatim work, The Fear of Breathing, subsequently premiered at the Finborough Theatre.
She said: “I feel privileged to work on this production that directly voices the powerful story from women that have survived war and are currently refugees. This piece encompasses the many challenges they have faced whilst being a celebration of life, a declaration of hope and an exploration of the future.”
Laura McDermott, Creative Director of the Attenborough Centre, said: "This performance brings the themes of a mythic text urgently alive through the present-day stories of Syrian women.
“We are especially pleased to host the production at Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts at University of Sussex. The war in Syria and the ensuing refugee crisis is something we care deeply about. The University and its alumni network has fundraised to provide scholarships for Syrian refugees to continue their studies in the UK."
The production will culminate in a West End Gala Performance at the New London Theatre on Sunday 24 July.