Terrific coverage by the BBC's Kirsty Lang of our production.
Barefoot in a yoga studio in Lebanon's capital Beirut, a couple dozen actresses raise voices and stretch bodies that had grown used to being quiet and still.
"Go on," they cry as a clapping exercise speeds up, and they fill the room with whoops and uninhibited yells.
But these women aren't professional actresses. In fact, they're refugees from Syria, and this production of the Greek tragedy Antigone is a project designed to help them deal with their trauma.
Avec plus d'un million de réfugiés syriens, plus que tout autre pays de la région, le Liban vit de plein fouet et au quotidien la crise syrienne qui dure depuis bientôt quatre ans. Parmi eux, les femmes sont nombreuses et des associations tentent de leur apporter une aide particulière. Une vingtaine d'exilées syriennes sont ainsi devenues comédiennes le temps de quelques soirées de représentation d'une pièce de théâtre mythique.
Dopo giorni di pioggia battente finalmente Beirut si era svegliata con una luce serena e calda; il sole di una tarda mattinata di primavera nei primi giorni di dicembre. Bloccati nel traffico di Hamra, come al solito, avevamo dovuto chiedere all’autista di farci scendere prima per continuare a piedi e arrivare in tempo a destinazione.
Avevo chiesto qualche giorno prima la possibilità di assistere alle prove di “Antigone of Syria”, un workshop teatrale quotidiano di due mesi, che ha debuttato con la prima di tre repliche, mercoledì 10 dicembre, nel più importante teatro di Beirut, il Madina.
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.
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.
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.
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?