The Everyman will host the opening event of this year’s Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (LAAF) next week with a two-night run of Queens of Syria, a ground-breaking theatre piece created and performed by female Syrian refugees. The production mixes the real-life experiences of the refugees with Euripides’ classic anti-war tale The Trojan Women, and will be performed on July 15 and 16.
First staged in Amman in 2013 and the subject of an award-winning documentary, Queens of Syria is described as “an extraordinary piece of multimedia theatre that skilfully amalgamates the women’s own narratives of bitter exile and ferocious war into the ancient Greek text”. Footage from the documentary will fused with the stage play for the first time.
The company says: “These are not the voices of political commentators or journalists, but of ordinary women whose lives have been turned upside down by the turmoil of the Syrian conflict. The stories of these women need to be heard. The production will be a life-changing opportunity for the refugees themselves, and a revelatory experience for British audiences who will hear first-hand the harsh realities of life as a refugee.”
Speaking about her experiences of being involved in the original production, one cast member said: “We came into a new society, a new way of life: we were isolated. Doing this play helped us break the ice; we started to connect with others and make friends. It gave us the courage we needed to talk about our problems frankly and clearly. We feel that we can do something for Syria, and the Syrian people, by sending a message to the whole world – hopefully someone can help us end this tragedy.”
LAAF is the UK’s premier annual Arab arts festival, and will bring a packed 10-day programme of music, theatre, dance, visual art, literature, talks and family friendly events to the city from July 15 to 24. The festival was inaugurated in 2002 to celebrate, raise awareness and promote an understanding and appreciation of Arab culture for both Arab and non-Arab audiences in Liverpool and beyond.
For tickets and information, see the Everyman’s website.