Syrian women take the stage in Istanbul with ancient Greek play
İpek Özbey – ISTANBUL
One of the Western world’s oldest extant dramas will be staged in Turkish for the first time, and with the participation of Syrian women in the production, the play is also set to convey a strong political message.
Written by the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, “The Suppliants” dramatizes the plight of 50 displaced women. The Istanbul-based interpretation of the tragedy will include 44 amateur and six professional actors, including a number of Syrian women, a leading member of the production team has said.
The play will go on stage in Istanbul’s popular venue Das Das Theatre, which hosts a wide variety of workshops, theatrical performances and concerts, said production team member Mert Fırat, who was appointed as Turkey’s first Goodwill Ambassador by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on Oct. 3, 2017.
The venue was established in the Ataşehir district about a year ago by the joint efforts of the actress Didem Balçin and musicians Harun Tekin and Koray Candemir as well as Fırat.
The prominent actor Fırat has told daily Hürriyet that “The Suppliants” is scheduled to premiere on March 8.
“At Das Das Theatre, we are putting our stamp on an international project. We will stage ‘The Suppliants,’ written by Aeschylus 2500 years ago, in Istanbul. The original text was kept on Byzantium lands until the 11th century, but now finds protection in a library in Florence. Thousands of years later, the play returns to its birth-land [thanks to Das Das Theatre]. The play centers on the struggle of 50 brave women who have fled Egypt to arrive in Greece by boat,” Fırat said.
Asked about the play’s connection to present day, Fırat said the play was a story about “standing against war, speaking against war, and trying to hold onto life.”
“We are talking about a world system in which three million people have found refuge in Turkey. By the way, this is the first [known] text that includes the word ‘democracy,’” he added.
Fırat also said he hoped the audience would empathize with the displaced. “These are women migrating to flee war and forced marriages with their cousins. They were able to say: ‘My body, my decision’ 2,500 years ago. There may be many people who do not share our views on Syrians, who do not want them to live with us. But empathy should be developed,” he said.
Misinformation, and especially exaggerated claims, obscures the plight of Syrian refugees in Turkey, according to Fırat. Such misinformation includes their ability to register at Turkish universities with their passports, receive huge salaries and cast votes without obtaining identification numbers.