Posted: 6 February 2014
Syria: 'The Trojan Women project' sees Syrian refugees take part in an adaptation of 'The Trojan Women', the great anti-war play by Euripides. The concept was to update the Greek writer of tragedy play in a contemporary context. Set in Amman, Jordan, the voices of the 48 Syrian women will form the chorus, giving expression to their experience and suffering. The women, who sing, act and exercise as part of the project, mostly come from Deraa, a conservative background and are among the 540,000 registered refugees who have fled Syria for Jordan since the civil war began.
The project is the brainchild of Charlotte Eager and her husband William Stirling. Eager, who is a former foreign correspondent who covered the Bosnian war in the 1990's, recruited Classical Civilisation student Eleanor Warrington, known as Farbie to her friends and colleagues, to assist with the project. Eleanor was inspired to take part in the project after meeting Eager and the plays producer, Georgie, also as a Classics student at Roehampton, the play also complemented her studies. Eager says 'Farbie's involvement was vital to our project and she was extremely organised and helpful, it also helped that as a classicist, she really understood what the project was about. Farbie sailed through it all; she was a credit to herself, her parents and her university'.
Eleanor, whose responsibilities were vast, juggled her university work and classes whilst raising a staggering £10,000 for the project and co-managing the website. After the Autumn term she flew to Jordan to join the team and to distribute flyers and leaflets. Eleanor, who doesn't speak Arabic, also had the challenging task of contacting various Jordanian newspapers to request press releases for the production. Eleanor comments 'my experience of Jordan was colourful, strenuous and exciting; as I flew out to assist with the final stages of the project, pressure was mounting. The most poignant work for me was with the women and the children, the children in the crèche were severely traumatised and had to be treated with great care'.
The project was also highly praised by the women involved, with many noting the experience as 'cathartic and empowering'. The project has been such as success that the play will go on tour, including locations such as Cyprus and Tunisia. Work has also commenced on a film version of the project which will be set against the background of conflict in the Middle East, possibly the Syrian war, with the UN Security Council as the Greek gods. Eleanor hopes to join the project on tour when the summer term ends.
The plays were staged at Amman's performing arts centre for two days in late December.
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