Antigone of Syria by Oliver Holmes at Reuters

Antigone of Syria by Oliver Holmes at Reuters

Some Lebanese people complain that the refugees are taking their jobs, driving down wages and overloading schools and hospitals, and the Lebanese government has asked the international community for funds to help look after them on the grounds that it cannot cope with the influx. 

One performer, Mona Fa, said she felt elated when the audience gave a standing ovation on the play's opening night. "We wanted to deliver a certain image to the people so they see us and the Syrian refugees in another way from the image they usually look at," she said.

iloubnan review Antigone

iloubnan review Antigone

Knowing that none of these women had any experience with performing, and that, for many, it was their first time in a theatre, made their performances even more touching. The audience appreciated the resilience they showed as they told their heart-breaking personal tragedies in front of complete strangers.

Antigone, the play’s heroine is almost seen as a role model for the cast. She, who defies the King and decides to give her brother a proper burial despite his objection, is looked upon with reverence. The women try to work out which role they should have in the play, the brave Antigone or her more subordinate sister, Ismene. To the audience, they were all Antigones. 

Picture Gallery in The Guardian

Wonderful picture gallery via The Guardian: http://bit.ly/1yPsazL

Like the other women in the project, Sahly now lives in one of Beirut’s dirty and overcrowded Palestinian refugee camps. The camps lacked infrastructure and opportunities even before the influx of Syrian refugees. Sahly says: ‘If you walk in the streets, it’s full of rubbish. There’s no electricity, the water’s salty, you can’t even wash in it.’ Rehearsals offer an opportunity to talk about the loss of her brothers and her former life, and be listened to – an experience she has found cathartic

Our partner Heinrich Böll report on Antigone of Syria

Our partner Heinrich Böll report on Antigone of Syria

On this sunny Thursday in November, the air in the spacious rehearsal room in Beirut’s Hamra district resonates with the traditional Arabic warbling of joy. Two birthdays are being celebrated today, and women are laughing and joking, infants are running and ramping about. The atmosphere, halfway between a family tea party and a kindergarten celebration, does not quite match with what one would expect from a theatre rehearsal.

But here, neither the actresses nor the play itself come close to any ordinary conception of theatre. The same passion that is perceptible during the break celebration equals the dedication that the women put into their work on the project.

Lebanese based agency iloubnan write about Antigone of Syria

Lebanese based agency iloubnan write about Antigone of Syria

For many women the project represents an essential escape from their troubled lives. For that reason, Aperta are looking for ways to keep the project running after the performance, establishing a set up where the women can run their own workshops and in turn train others. The performance will be recorded and shared on the internet in a hope to encourage others to gain empowerment through theatre. 

Listen to German Radio story on Antigone of Syria

Listen to German Radio story on Antigone of Syria

Die antiken griechischen Dramen stehen weltweit immer wieder auf dem Spielplan der Theater. Im Libanon haben Syrerinnen, die vor dem Krieg in ihrer Heimat geflohen sind, "Antigone" von Sophokles neu interpretiert. Das Stück wirft Fragen auf, die immer aktuell sind: Wann ist ein Auflehnen gegen Autoritäten gerechtfertigt?

Antigone of Syria in The Economist

Antigone of Syria in The Economist

We are absolutely delighted that the Economist has chosen to lend it's voice to our project. Below is a brief extract, but click through for a link to the whole article. 

The tale of Antigone’s defiance against state repression retains a similar political relevance today to when it was written down 2,500 years ago. While the workshop is as much about empowering female refugees as it is about the production, the choice of play in the context of the Syrian conflict is striking. A tragedy of familial love, female courage, resistance against the state and blurred moral lines, it acts as a reminder that the role of the state, and of women within the state, is in momentous flux in Syria.