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WATCH: Play Written and Performed by Syrian Refugees in Glasgow

posted on: Feb 9, 2019

The Trojans is an important new adaptation of Euripides’ great anti-war tragedy, written and performed by Syrian refugees living in Glasgow, now showing at Platform Theatre.

SOURCE: COMMONSPACE 

BY: RHIANNON DAVIS

The deeply moving play is the result of nine months of drama workshops with Glasgow-based Syrian refugees. It features powerful and raw performances, their honesty bringing the reality and horrors of war into the Easterhouse theatre. 

A woman tells of not recognising her own husband when she first visits him in prison after two and half months of not knowing whether he was dead or alive. He tells her: “They beat me. They tortured me. But they couldn’t kill me.”

Another says: “I grabbed everything I could. I know it sounds crazy, but I took two teddies that I love so much… to remind me of my childhood. my home.”

While divisive discussions of Syrian politics are purposefully put aside, there is a reason for sharing their stories, as one cast member outlines: “We are conveying a mesage to the Scottish audience. The cause of the people. The suffering of the people. Why we came here as refugees.”

It’s a heartrending message driven home by combining the small details that paint a picture of living through war in Syria today with the dramatic emphasis of this classic Greek tragedy.

Telling true stories of life in a country at war, the play is at times harrowing:

 “I was coming home and it was late at night.. I was walking in the dark towards my house. As I approached my front steps I stood on something. It felt soft and didn’t move.. I realised it was my neighbour. He was lying dead at might feet. That night, I couldn’t sit still.

“Sorry my country. Sorry Syria. Sorry my father, my mother, my brother, my friends. I left you when you needed me most. I left you with tears in my eyes, and sorrow in my heart.”

But there are uplifting moments too as the cast share honest experiences of building new lives in Scotland:

 “When I got to Glasgow, I felt happy and safe. I felt as if I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe what I saw – the beautiful nature, beautiful smiling faces.” 

“One and a half years here in Scotland – I share with Scotland my deepest thoughts. I speak to her a lot, and I know she is listening. She never refuses me.”

“I am amazed by people here. I thought they might be racist towards us. But I have been in situations where I am in tears – are people really this kind? Is it possible? When I meet people in the GP’s office, the Job Centre, on the bus or at the shopping centre. They are kind people. 

Directed by Victoria Beesley, it has been adapted by Mariem Omari, with Alaa Saloum and Sanaa Al Froukh including original writing by the cast. It opens in Platform on the evening  Friday 8 February, with a second performance, a matinee on Saturday 9th February.