Meet some of our wonderful & talented actresses. Read about their hopes, dreams and the lives they've left behind.


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MONA

Age: 28

From: Damascus

Marital status: Married

Children: Two - One son died of cancer aged five.

Hobbies/interests: Writing poetry and stories

What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in this project? Looking for work. In Syria I was a teacher in a primary school.  

How long have you been in Beirut? 2 years

What do you miss most about Syria?  My parents, my family. Going out with friends.

If you went back, what is the first thing you would do?  I’d go and visit my son’s grave

What were your expectations of this project before you started? I didn’t expect that it would be a proper piece of theatre that would be presented on a main stage in the middle of Beirut for all the public to watch. I thought it would be something much more simple than that.

What are your thoughts on the project now, since starting? Much better than I expected.  People have come from abroad to work on this. It has given me hope and encouragement. I never thought I would be doing such a project, I thought I would always stay at home. I had lost a lot of confidence in myself but since starting this I feel much more confident now.  

Which character to you relate to most and why? Antigone. When someone has a right, they shouldn't shut up, so she is correct not to give up and fight for what she believes is right.

What do you hope to gain by doing Antigone of Syria?  I hope to give the world a different opinion of Syrian refugees.  There are those of us who are cultured and educated and we will show  our audience that, yes we are Muslim but not all Muslims are terrorists. We wear hijabs and can be on stage and do anything.  Our hijabs don’t trap our minds.

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WALA’A El SOKARI

Age: 25

From: Yarmouk Palestinian camp, Damascus.

Marital status: Single

Hobbies/interests:  Swimming - not now, but I used to love swimming in the sea. Listening to old folk music; reading poetry and acting.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in this project of Antigone?  At home cleaning probably. I also attend an English course so I’d be doing that.

How long have you been in Beirut? 1year 9 months

What do you miss most about Syria?  The Jasmine trees in Damascus.  The smell of my dad. My bedroom, I really miss my bedroom.

If you went back, what is the first thing you would do?  I would kiss the earth in Damascus then I’d go see my house, the camp and visit my friends.

What were your expectations of this project before you started?  I didn’t really have any, I didn’t know what to expect I was just waiting and waiting for it to happen, I couldn’t wait!

What are your thoughts on the project now? Well, in Damascus I used to work as a nursery teacher and when we came here I didn’t like it.  We experience racism, people don’t like us but being involved in this project I feel like I have returned to Syria because we are all together sharing stories.  I am very happy.

Which character to you relate to most and why? Definitely Antigone.  I am strong like her. Of all my sisters I am the strongest and most confident. I’m not afraid of anything.

What do you hope to gain by doing Antigone of Syria?  I want Lebanese people and the world to hear our voices.  Even if they throw us in the sea, we can still build. And I want to show them that women and men are equal!


Zakiya Khalaf

Age: 22

From: Aleppo

Married: No

Hobbies/interests: I like drawing.

How long have you been here in Beirut? 8 months.

What do you miss most about Syria? Our goat and the fields.

What is the first thing you would do if you went back to Syria? Buy a herd of sheep, it’s our livelihood.

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project? Sat at home not doing anything.

What were your expectations before we started? I thought I wouldn’t stay until the end, I thought I would need to know how to read and write and that it would be difficult.

And what do you think now?  It’s easy at times and difficult at times.

What do you want to gain from this? I want people to hear us, that we want to go back to Syria.

If you could go anywhere in the world except Syria, where would it be? Nowhere, I only want to go to Syria, nowhere else.

Which character do you identify with most and why?  Antigone - she’s strong, she fights and sticks up for herself.

ISRA’A AL ABDOU

Age: 16

From: Aleppo

Marital status: Single

Hobbies/interests: I like to study Arabic and read stories.

How long have you been here in Beirut? 1yr and 10months.

What do you miss most about Syria? My house and my teddy.

What is the first thing you would do if you went back to Syria? Visit my house.

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project? I’d be at home watching television or chatting with neighbours.

What were your expectations before we started? I didn’t think it would be that good.  I thought I’d leave after a day or two. I didn’t think I’d have to study a script or be performing on stage.  

And what do you think now? My opinions changed once we started training. I got into it and I actually want to perform and succeed. I was afraid they might tell me to leave or something, I like it so much. 

What do you want to gain from this? I want the world to hear and see us. For me personally I want to work hard and learn.

If you could go anywhere in the world except Syria, where would it be and why? Germany - to study.  It’s safe, they have good studying opportunities, and freedom. My mum wanted to bring us up there but she didn’t have enough money.  

Which character do you identify with most and why?  Ismene - because she’s a scaredy cat like me!  She’s afraid and always follows rules.


WESAM El SOKARI

Age: 31

From: Yarmouk Palestinian Camp, Damascus

Marital status: Married

Children: 2 daughters

Hobbies/interests: Reading novels 

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project? I used to work in a clothes shop but left 8 months ago due to racist issues.  People would look down on me because I’m Syrian and working, it wasn’t pleasant so I left. 

How long have you been in Beirut? 1year and 11 months

What do you miss most about Syria? My family.  We used to have big family gatherings at my grandfather’s house and eat together.

If you went back, what is the first thing you would do?  Go to my house and see if it is still standing or has been reduced to rubble.

What were your expectations of this project before you started? I knew it was an acting project but I didn’t think I would stay long. I never imagined myself acting so I thought I wouldn't enjoy it and would leave.

What are your thoughts on the project now? I’m really enjoying it.  I feel encouraged by you who are teaching us and by the other women so I definitely want to stay on until the end.  We are all Syrian and all talking about our situations, so we’re in the same boat.  Hearing other women’s stories makes ours feel easier.  We all think our problems are the worst but they’re not when you hear some of the others’.   

Which character to you relate to most and why?  Ismene.  I have never been in a situation like Antigone so I don’t have the same reasons as her, so as far as I’m concerned we should respect the law which is what Ismene also believes when she tries to encourage Antigone not to defy Creon.

What do you hope to gain by doing Antigone of Syria?  My husband encouraged me to take part in this project and I want to get out of it as much as possible. I want to do the best I can.  I am doing something for me, not just being a typical housewife.

FATIMA HASSAN

Age: 28

From: Aleppo

Married: Yes

Children: 3 daughters and I’m 4 months pregnant.

Hobbies/interests: I love singing, I sing anywhere, mostly Najwa Karam. I also love drawing.

How long have you been here in Beirut? 4 years.

What do you miss most about Syria? My room in our house.

What is the first thing you would do if you went back to Syria? Build a new home. Ours was hit by missiles, we had a 2 floor house that was completely destroyed.   

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project? Nothing. I’d be at home looking after my daughters.

What were your expectations before we started? I thought we would only come for one or two days.  I didn’t know we were going to do the exercises we did. When we first started I thought, where is the theatre, where is acting, we are just playing and training.  

And what do you think now?  We got used to it and we don’t want to leave. We feel it’s something important, we have to continue with it.

What do you want to gain from this? For the piece to succeed and to get our voices heard here in Lebanon.

If you could go anywhere in the world except Syria, where would it be? Any foreign country. Actually I’d like to visit Iraq. I like Iraqis, they understand us, they are like our siblings. Foreign countries don’t understand us. 

Which character do you identify with most and why? Heamon and Creon, the son and father. They both fight for what they believe in.  I don’t think Creon is an oppressor, I think he’s a nice man, the world sees him wrongly, he’s fighting for what he believes in and doesn’t want to lose his seat. Heamon fights for love and I like him for that.


Rasha

Age: 22

From: Aleppo

Married: Yes

Children: A 2 year old son and a 5 month old daughter.

Hobbies/interests: Well, I like acting even though it’s my first time.  But only in a hijab, I think it’s much nicer in a hijab.

How long have you been here in Beirut? 1yr 6months

What do you miss most about Syria? My house. The walls of my room, my clothes, everything.  I never imagined that I wouldn’t bring my children up in that house.  The thing I miss the most though is a flower that my mum bought me as a present, it’s a big plastic plant with a flower and it was always there so I miss seeing that.

What is the first thing you would do if you went back to Syria? I’d kiss the walls of our house. And of course the earth, I’d breath in Syria’s air and bathe in it’s water. I’d open the tap and drink the water. 

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project? I’d be sat at home not doing anything if it wasn’t for this project. 

What were your expectations before we started? I didn’t think it would require so much focus, I thought it was just games and laughter.

And what do you think now?  Then I realised it’s actually theatre, it’s serious work, not just messing around.  It’s fun but it’s work at the same time.

What do you want to gain from this?  I want our voices to be heard. That people hear our stories and know that we were oppressed in our country and we are oppressed here.  We live in sadness and how long the sadness will last I don’t know. We’re not happy. In Syria we were afraid of the bombings and shootings, we came here and we’re oppressed. We’re not comfortable in any way.

If you could go anywhere in the world except Syria, where would it be?  I’ve never been abroad so I don’t really know but I’ve heard Germany is nice, they say it has nice characteristics and the houses are nice.

Which character do you identify with most and why?  Ismene, she’s weak. If you oppress me I wont ask you why you’re oppressing me, I’ll just accept it like Ismene does. Secondly, she’s afraid to lose the people she truly cares about and so am I.

Zena

Age: 18

From: Damascus

Married: Yes

Children: Two

Hobbies/interests: Singing - Iraqi songs especially. I like Kazem al Saher and Hussam al Rassam. I like singing good mawals. I sing day and night, especially when we have power cuts.

How long have you been here in Beirut? 3yrs

What do you miss most about Syria? The foule [dish made from fava beans] in Syria, we used to have it every Friday for breakfast. I really miss that.

What is the first thing you would do if you went back to Syria?  As soon as I got off the bus I would lift my head to the sky and kiss God, I’d get on the ground and pray to thank him for taking us back to Syria.

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project?  I’d be at home cleaning and cooking.

What were your expectations before we started? I didn’t register, my mum did it for me, she told me it was a sewing workshop. I didn’t want to do it at first because I have children and didn’t know who would look after them, but they told us they’ll put them in a nursery so I went. I went on the first day to the meeting and the centre told me, if you want to act go to the room upstairs so I went to see what it was about.   

And what do you think now? I’m very happy, I want to continue doing it. I have problems at home, deep inside I live 24hrs of sadness, but in these four hours each day that I come to the workshops I release some of that sadness. Haven’t you seen me laughing a lot?  It’s an opportunity for me to leave the house on my own; my husband doesn’t allow me to go out. I’m really happy in this project and I don’t want it to end. I want to do this all the time. 

What do you want to gain from this?  I want my husband to know that I can do anything. Just because we’re women it doesn’t mean we can’t. I just want him to understand and respect me a little. I can do things, I have talents and I don’t want to be trapped at home.  

If you could go anywhere in the world except Syria, where would it be? England. My husband talks about it a lot, always saying he is going to go there. So I started wanting to go there, but I wish that I could go before him.  Like I told you, he doesn't let me go out anywhere because I’m a woman so I wish I could go to England before and show him! This theatre project has given me a sense of empowerment, I feel strong. My husband says, "You’re a woman, you shouldn’t go out, you have to stay home." But now I am the one who is working, it’s not just him who goes out, and talks and has fun; now I can too. I can do even more than him in fact.

Which character do you identify with most and why?  I see myself in Ismene, she wants to be strong but she can’t be. I like laughing, I don’t like sadness and I’d like to be strong but unfortunately I’m weak. I wish that I could go my whole life without crying or getting upset but….I can’t. 


ISRA’A SHAHROUR

Age: 22

From: Born in Germany but at 7 months moved to Yarmouk Palestinian Camp, Damascus

Marital status: Single

Hobbies/interests: Sport - I used to teach aerobics in Damascus. I also like arabic dancing and acting.  Ever since I was a little girl I used to love imitating and telling stories.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in this project? Hopefully working, or looking for work. I used to be a teacher in a nursery.

How long have you been in Beirut? 1year, 10 months and 13 days

What do you miss most about Syria? The nice people.

If you went back, what is the first thing you would do? Visit my dad’s grave.

What were your expectations of this project before you started?  I thought it would be much more straight forward - we would read the script, get given the roles and learn the show.

What are your thoughts on the project now? I am surprised - the work is proper and professional. We are involved in every aspect, our opinions and stories are important to the piece.  They have really brought the actors out in us.

Which character to you relate to most and why?  Antigone.  She is like me.  She loved her brother and stuck up for him and what she believes in.  I would do exactly the same if I were in her shoes.

What do you hope to gain by doing Antigone of Syria?  I want to expand my acting experience and get my Syrian voice across to the Lebanese and others.  I want to show people that women can do what men can do, furthermore that women in hijabs can do something like this, despite wearing a hijab

HIBA SAHLY

Age: 23

From: Yarmouk Palestinian Camp, Damascus

Marital status: Single

ChildrenNo

Hobbies/interests: Reading, chatting on Whatsapp, and smoking argeela (hookah/sheesha)... lemon and mint is my favourite flavour.

How long have you been here in Beirut? 2yrs and 2 months.

What do you miss most about Syria?  My house, my bedroom.

What is the first thing you would do if you went back to Syria? Visit my brother’s grave.

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project? Looking for work. I used to work in the stock control department of a clothes store here in Beirut but I left when my brother died.

What were your expectations before we started? I wasn’t convinced by the project to be honest. I thought it was just going to be playing games without any meaning, just for the sake of it. 

And what do you think now? I think it’s great and important. It’s important to get our voices heard. Hopefully it will be a success.

What do you want to gain from this? I want the world to understand why we are here and show them that we are not uneducated.  

If you could go anywhere in the world, except Syria, where would it be and why? Italy, because I want to see Venice. Kazem al Saher once sang there. 

Which character do you identify with most and why? Antigone, but only because I have lost 2 brothers. If it was anyone else's body I wouldn’t fight the rules, but for my brother without a doubt, so I understand why Antigone does what she does.


Wardia

Age: 29

From: Aleppo

Marital status: Married

Children: 5 sons

Hobbies/interests: Listening to Iraqi music, I love it.  

How long have you been here in Beirut?  7 months.

What do you miss most about Syria? My mum and sisters.

What is the first thing you would do if you went back to Syria?  Go to my house that the Free Syrian Army occupied to see if it’s still there.

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project? Not much, house chores - cooking, cleaning, maybe visiting relatives at their home. I wish I could study at University. My dream is to be a judge in court! 

What were your expectations before we started? When they said ‘theatre’, we were afraid, because it’s acting and we’re Syrian. We’ve never worked before and didn’t know what to expect, but me personally I got so excited, my heart started pounding.  

And what do you think now?  Well straight away I really enjoyed it. I saw the room, the filming, the photography, I loved the exercises we did with Dina.  For us it was a change of scene, I am really really enjoying it.

What do you want to gain from this? I personally want to improve and succeed, to do something challenging. I hope it will be a success for the group and I hope the show will get taken abroad so that we can perform in another country.

If you could go anywhere in the world, except Syria, where would it be and why? England, to London - to see Dina!

Which character do you identify with most and why? Heamon, Definitely Haemon. He loves and he goes against the king and his family to be with the one he loves. And I would go against all of them to be with the one I love too.

FADWA AWETI

Age: 58

From:  Born in Homs. I got married and moved to Damascus, then left to live in the UAE and eventually returned to Damascus and lived in the Yarmouk Camp.

Marital status: Married

Children:  3 boys and 3 girls.  Two of my sons died so I only have 4 now.

Hobbies/interests: I used to read a lot when I was young but once I got married I was too busy with house chores and raising a family. Recently I started crocheting and doing cross-stitch and now I have learned that I have a hobby called acting! 

How long have you been here in Beirut? 2yrs and 2 months.

What do you miss most about Syria? My house. Our neighbours. My children. 

What is the first thing you would do if you went back to Syria? Visit my son’s grave.

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project? I would be sat at home doing house chores and crocheting from time to time.

What were your expectations before we started? If I’m honest, I only joined for the money. But once we started and I saw how great it was, talking about our lives and situations I no longer cared about the money.  

And what do you think now?  Oh wow. I have found my young self again. I have expressed things I’ve not expressed for a long time. I found me, the young Fedwa that I had lost.

What do you want to gain from this? I wish this project would lead to a second project, exactly like it to start again! I wish that people who watch the show will change their opinions of us, we are not lower than them, we’re all the same.

If you could go anywhere in the world, except Syria, where would it be and why? Palestine, to see my grandparents house, our land, our history.  I have never been to Palestine.

Which character do you identify with most and why?  Creon. When you read the story properly, I don’t actually think he is an oppressor, I think he is a human being who is making rules that he believes are right for the sake of his country and people. 


INTISAR

Age: 35

From: Dar’aa

Marital status: Married

Children: 2 daughters

Hobbies/interests: Reading stories and the Quran. I also like exercising.

How long have you been here in Beirut? 2 years

What do you miss most about Syria? Everything, everything, everything. I even miss the rubbish and dirt of Syria!

What is the first thing you would do if you went back to Syria?  Look for my brother who is missing. No-one knows what happened to him or where he is.

What would you be doing if you weren’t part of this project? At home but trying to find work. I used to work in a nursery.

What were your expectations before we started this project? I just came to see what it was about, I had no intention of staying longer than a couple of days, people from Dar’aa are a bit nervous you see, so I was a bit worried about being on stage with an audience watching.

And what do you think now?  It was when we started at the University, we met Dina and we relaxed and realised this is something so important and we have to do it.  We have come from a war and we need to do something like this. We have awful situations and this took the pressure off of us, it eases the pain.  I was afraid in the beginning but now I can’t wait to come to work the next day.

What do you want to gain from this?  To get my voice out to the world, so that they can see the sadness and tragedies we are going through, the loss of our families, our homes, our country. We haven’t come here to be tourists or to settle and we’re not even comfortable or happy here, our hearts and feelings are in Syria. We are only here because of a war, it’s not our choice.  

If you could go anywhere in the world except Syria, where would it be and why? Sweden, I think we’d have a great future there. It’s a safe place for my children. I’d marry my daughters there if I could find them husbands! (laughs)

Which character do you identify with most and why? Antigone. I’m not a hero or anything but I live Antigone’s sadness every day. Her brother is so important to her and my brother is missing and he is so important to me.