HIBA is standing in the garden of the council house she shares with her family in Milton of Campsie.

It is a long way from Syria, the country they fled after her school was shelled by the army.

Now 19, Hiba does not flinch as she describes the horrors of that day, seven years ago, when her life changed forever.

“I thought I was going to die,” she says.

“I wanted to scream at the soldiers – ‘I am a child! You are supposed to protect us not kill us!’ It became normal to see your friends die in front of you.”

Hiba, and her mother, Sanaa, 37, a clinical psychologist, are two of 18 Syrian refugees appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe this week.

They will be performing The Trojans, directed by Victoria Beesley, a brand new adaptation of Euripides’ 2400 year old anti-war tragedy.

The cast, who all live in and around Glasgow, have worked their own stories into the play, a one-off gala performance at the EICC’s Pentland Theatre, in a co-production with the Pleasance, on Wednesday (August 7) at 4.30pm.


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“I am so grateful for the play,” said Hiba. “I didn’t talk about Syria with Scottish people before, but now I feel free to do so.”

The Edinburgh Fringe performance will be the culmination of a year-long drama programme for Syrian refugees based in Glasgow. It first opened at Platform Theatre, in Easterhouse in February, to great acclaim.

It has not been an easy journey – funding fell through at the last minute, and until a desperate crowd-funding plea raised £10,000, it looked like the journey was over.

The Trojan Women Project, a psycho-social support drama programme for Syrian refugees founded by film producer William Stirling and journalist and filmmaker, Charlotte Eagar in 2013.

“We chose the Trojan Women because Euripides’ play is about refugees – it’s set at the fall of Troy, all the men are dead, and the women await their fate in the Greek camp,” explains Stirling.

“In our first production, in Jordan in 2013, the Syrian female cast made it clear they could completely identify with the characters they played.”

More than 40 men and women joined the nine months of drama workshops in Glasgow, and of those, 18 wanted to go on stage – including Hiba and Saana.

“My mum said she was going on a drama course,” said Hiba. “I begged her to take me with her. I was so bored at home on my own.

“Vickie taught us how to express what was happening inside us. By playing we talked about our personal ideas. My mum said you can do something for Syria. I am very young, but with this play, my mum said, your voice is enough to change the world.”

As Stirling explains, the key to the play is that the cast are essentially playing themselves.

“It gives them a platform to tell their stories to the world.,” he adds. “Audiences react very emotionally to seeing ordinary people, just like them, having the courage to stand on stage to tell of their horrific experiences; they understand what it means to be a refugee. It helps humanise a crisis that can seem overwhelming.”


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Mohammad is one of the stars of the show. After his father’s death, Mohammad hid in a basement for two years, before being arrested and tortured by the Regime. After six months, he was released, to be met by Maisaa, the neighbour who had looked after him when he was in hiding.

The couple fell in love afled to Egypt. After joining the Scottish Government’s resettlement scheme, they live in a council flat in Springburn with their newborn daughter, Judith, named after an aid worker who helped them to escape.

“With this play I have found a voice,” he said. “Finally I felt I could speak without fear. Finally I felt someone cared about us.”

For Hiba, now at college studying to be a psychologist, her experiences have also inspired her to help others.

“I went through the war and I know what people are suffering.” she said. “I want to be able to give back to this country because Scotland welcomed me and gave me human rights.”