When I lived in Iraq, I believed that theatre was something boring and uninteresting. The reason for this was because I could not find a point to it because plays were purely for entertainment! Laughing, playing and dancing dominated. Now, that I live in Athens, I have had the opportunity to watch two plays, which managed to change my opinion about theatre.
On July 2nd I visited the French Institute of Athens to attend the plays of the programme “City Zen Ship 2”. The first play was presented by the Theatre Group of the French Collective “Je Pars À Zart”, with teenage actors and actresses. The second one was presented by the “Network for Children’s Rights” Teenage Theatre Group.
The first play was entitled “The last voyage of Sinbad”. It was about the “Odyssey” of refugees during their journey and it was in French. There was shouting, gunfire and a character named Sinbad, who was a cruel man driving the boat. Refugees were chased into a boat, which did not have enough capacity for all of them. Sindbad shouted aggressively at the refugees and there was a pregnant woman among them, who gave birth while on board. And when the refugees finally reached their destination, there was no friendly welcome for them, just policemen and gunfire.
The second play was entitled “The voyage of O.” and its subject was the story of Odysseus and the Trojan War, from Greek mythology. It was presented in both English and Greek. After Odysseus fought in Troy and won the war, he began the long journey home to Ithaca, accompanied by his men. The difficulties were many on that journey and many of his men were lost. When they finally made it to Ithaca, Odysseus, who was also the king, returned to his palace and his wife, who was surrounded by her so-called suitors, that wanted to marry her. She had been waiting for his return for 20 whole years and had managed to keep the suitors at bay.
After the performances we interviewed two of the participants and asked them about their experience.
Mohammed, an actor with the Teenage Theatre Group of “Network for the Children’s Rights” told us that this was the first time he was performing in a play. At the beginning he was very nervous, but then, when he went on stage, “everything was great!”.
Carla, an actress from the Theatre Group of the French Collective “Je Pars À Zart”, said that by participating in the play she became aware of the dangers faced by refugees during their journey and also about their difficulties when trying to adapt to new conditions. “Theatre teaches us to respect each other, new people we meet, new cultures, new ways of living, and to adapt to all these, so that we can integrate”.
As for me, a spectator, I could see the anxiety, fear and agony reflected in the actors’ and the actresses’ eyes, in the same way as I had experienced them, not in a theatrical role, but as a sad reality. They did it wonderfully.