Classics and Theater departments present ‘Queens of Syria,” a documentary film, March 27
Yasmin Fedda’s documentary, “Queens of Syria,” to be shown at 7 p.m. in Silfen Auditorium, Bill Hall, on Monday, March 27, tells about a group of Syrian women who created an extraordinary modern retelling of Euripides’ play ‘The Trojan Women.’ The event is free and open to the public, and includes a 6:30 p.m. opening reception and a panel discussion to follow.
‘Queens of Syria’ is the story of fifty women from Syria, forced into exile in Jordan, who came together in Autumn 2013 to create and perform their own version of the timeless ancient Greek tragedy about the plight of women in war. The film captures an extraordinary moment of cross-cultural contact across millennia, in which women born in 20th-century Syria found a blazingly vivid mirror of their own experiences in the stories of a queen, princesses and ordinary women like them: uprooted, enslaved, and bereaved by the Trojan War.
The post-film discussion panel includes Ginny Anderson, assistant professor of theater; Nina Papathanasopoulou, visiting assistant professor of classics; and Ramzi Kaiss '19 of the College's Committee on Refugee Relief and Education.
When theater professor Anderson reached out to the director, Yasmin Fedda, to inquire about permission to access the film and share it with her Theater and Culture class and the broader community through the College, Fedda graciously and generously agreed to both in exchange for a donation to The White Helmets, the Syrian volunteer civil defense organization, to which Anderson contributed.
“If this screening provides even just a little more understanding into the lives of those fleeing Syria and other war-torn countries, into the lives of those seeking safety and community as refugees, then I'm very proud to take this small step at the College,” Anderson said.
In explaining the significance of showing ‘Queens of Syria’ on World Theatre Day, Anderson continued, “It was important to me that students learn about the work these Syrian refugee women were doing through theater. World Theatre Day felt like an appropriate time for it. We keep asking this question of "what can theater do", especially in times of crisis, and their work, as captured in this documentary, demonstrates how it can contribute to much needed intercultural understanding and greater empathy.”
Classics professor Papathanasopoulou also elaborated on the role of Greek tragedy, which she says “has proven inspirational and therapeutic for a number of people in recent years. In 2014, another group of Syrian women put on a performance of Sophocles’ Antigone, the story of a woman who in the aftermath of a war defies authority figures in order to bury her own brother. Veterans of war have found parallels between their experiences and those of the Greek heroes Ajax and Philoctetes in Sophocles’ plays, while many contemporary women fighting for what they believe identify with Antigone and other heroes in Greek tragedy."
Those interested in attending can indicate interest at the Facebook event page the organizers have created for “Queens of Syria.”