Euripides’ Trojan Women

Sophia Bare, Editor

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This past Saturday, on May 19th, the St. Stephen’s School Lyceum, in accordance with the English Department presented “a day of studies” on the Greek Tragedy, Trojan Women (penned by Euripides), the Syrian refugee crisis, and on how the two intersect in the Trojan Women adaptation starring Syrian refugee women. This adaptation proved to be unique in its own rights as the stories of struggle, suffering and hope from the Syrian women were integrated into the play itself. It was featured in the documentary, Queens of Syria, which detailed the lives of these women, and chronicled the story of how the adaptation came to be.


The day started off with an optional theatrical workshop at 9:30, lead by actor and director Douglas Dean. The group consisted of only a handful of people — some who I already knew, and some I had never been formally introduced to — and we spent the first minutes introducing ourselves and warming up (vocal and physical exercises) to get ready for the hour ahead. This was then followed by a compact hour of work on a scene from Trojan Women that included a monologue from Hecuba (portrayed by Bukunola MacPherson), and various lines from the chorus. At least half of the scene had to be cut in the interest of time, and the group had little to no time to go over it.


When the clock struck 11:00, a crowd of teachers and staff funneled into the auditorium for a presentation by Dr. Helen Pope, on the strife endured by victims of war in Trojan Women, and how it served as a direct reflection on the current situation in Syria. Her presentation included quotations from the play, pictures of the Syrian war and its impact (especially of women and children) and heart wrenching personal stories and letters. As this year was her last at St. Stephen’s Dr. Pope received hugs and a present from two of her fellow colleagues, Michael Brouse and Viktorija Podagelyte. The demonstration ended on an emotional high note, accompanied by a standing ovation from the audience.


This was followed by a performance of the scene tackled during the workshop. “In theatre, there are no excuses” Dean started off, before listing off the excuses as to why it wasn’t exactly a completely polished product. Either way, the experience was well worth the public humiliation.


Before lunch, there was a screening of the Queens of Syria, the documentary mentioned previously. It well exceeded my expectations and though not always pleasant in tone and content, was an insightful experience that I appreciated. The day ended with a buffet-style lunch of Syrian and Damascan cuisine, provided by Hummustown.


Photo courtesy of the St. Stephen’s Newsletter.