Refugees staging Greek tragedy in Glasgow to address trauma of war

A 2,400-year-old Greek tragedy is to be staged in one of Scotland's most deprived communities to help Syrian refugees overcome the psychological traumas of war.

Sanaa Mohammad, who arrived in Scotland 11 months ago, is expected to take part in the Easterhouse workshop
Sanaa Mohammad, who arrived in Scotland 11 months ago, is expected to take part in the Easterhouse workshop

The Trojan Women Project will set up weekly drama workshops in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow over the next seven months.

Involving predominantly women who have fled the seven-year-old conflict, the dramatic process will culminate in a performance of Euripides’ epic play written in 415BC, whose themes are conquest, war and displacement.

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Those taking part will be invited to open up about their own experiences in the Syrian conflict, in the presence of trained psychologists as well as drama tutors.

The theatre team works with psychologists to help refugees retell their ordeals. The final production will feature a narrative made up of first-hand accounts of the Syrian conflict as experienced by those involved in the workshops.

William Stirling co-founded the project with his wife, the filmmaker and former foreign correspondent Charlotte Eagar, five years ago in Jordan for Syrian refugees and local deprived children in Amman. The project will be launched next Wednesday at The Bridge community centre as part of the Scottish Refugee Festival, which is being organised by the Scottish Refugee Council.

Mr Stirling said: “The act of saying what happened to you, and working this through with other people that this has happened to…helps you feel you are not alone. All these other people it’s happened to.”

He added: “A lot of people join because they simply want to bear witness. They want someone to care. A lot of them say ‘I always wanted to be on the news, I wanted to be interviewed like those people you see on the TV saying what happened in our suburb – but I never was’.”

Sanaa Mohammad, 35, is a mother of five, who arrived in Scotland 11 months ago.

She fled her home city of Daraa, in southern Syrian, after witnessing the massacre of women and children by government forces at the school where she was a teacher.

A trained psychologist, she took part in a radio project run by the same team last year. She expects to be involved in the Easterhouse workshops.

She said: “It was good because I share feelings that I can’t speak about comfortably with anyone before – but the drama course made me describe my feeling with other people who have same experience.”