ACT 1. IPHIGENIA COMING TO HER WEDDING / WAR IS BREWING
ON FILM: Dinghies overcrowded with refugees head towards Lesvos’ shore. Life vests turn into golden foil.
ON STAGE: A chorus of soldiers raring to go to war. Nothing will stop them. Blood will be spilled.
ACT 2. A WEDDING FUNERAL
ON FILM: Fences, white tents, mud. The refugee camp on Lesvos. Women crowd around the only faucet washing themselves, their clothes and their children in red buckets.
ON STAGE: Soldiers and bridesmaids celebrate Iphigenia’s wedding, but instead Iphigenia is sacrificed to start a war. In accordance with Syrian tradition, the wedding is still celebrated during the funeral.
ACT 3. ESCAPE
ON FILM: Testimonies of women refugees - mothers, daughters, grandmothers, young and old.
ON STAGE: After years in prison, Iphigenia decides to survive and escapes by sea. As she pays her respects to the drowned and the passed by reciting their names, she changes the ending of her story.
MUSIC - FILM - THEATRE - DANCE
Composer, Kinan Azmeh mixes classical and modern Western and Arabic music to create a rich polyphonic score. Irina Patkanian’s film shows uncut takes of simple everyday struggle in the lives of refugees. Curated from hundreds of hours of observational takes, the film was shot over three years from Lesvos in 2015 to Lebanon in 2018. Lisa Schlesinger fuses the language of the Iphigenia myth with contemporary war reportage, combat lexicon, military weaponry, and UN Declarations. Hussein Smko brings deep roots as a survivor of five wars and his unique self-taught multi-disciplinary dancing styles to create highly specific and yet simultaneously universal ritualistic movements. Tae Sup Lee employs authentic and minimalistic design elements to evoke universal spaces for ritual. Experimental theatre director Marion Schoevaert orchestrates live music, film, text, dance and theatre into an entirely contemporary total new opera performance ritual.
IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK was conceived in response to the refugee crisis as seen through the lens of the Iphigenia myth. It references Euripides’ plays, Iphigenia in Aulis and Iphigenia in Tauris, as its central metaphor and draws from the traditional form of the ancient Greek women’s lament from the Trojan and Peloponnesian War epics. It follows the plight and stories of refugees caught in the on-going war in the Middle East, the routes they travel to escape violence and the histories/stories they carry with them.
Today, we are witnessing the highest levels of displacement ever on record. An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. 22.5 million are under the age of 18. Over 4.8 million refugees have fled Syria alone. According to Amnesty International and the UN, 1,015,078 arrived to Europe by sea in 2015; 349,825 in 2016 4699 drowned in 2016 alone trying to cross the Mediterranean. On average 20 people are forced to leave their homes every minute as a result of conflict or persecution.
IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK aims to challenge the justifications for and mechanisms of war, from the Trojan war, to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the proxy wars in Syria. Beyond bearing witness we contest the unending cycles of war that always result in devastation.