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Commonwealth Theatre Company Tackles Refugee Crisis In 'Trojan Women'

Crystal Ludwick

Last year, when Hallie Dizdarevic found out she might be directing a Greek tragedy for Commonwealth Theatre Company, she suggested the company perform “The Trojan Women.”

“That’s because I knew that it’s a play about war and refugees and we are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis since World War II,” Dizdarevic said. “There’s just nothing we could do right now that could be more relevant to me than this play.”

Most people, Dizdarevic said, are familiar with the 10-year war waged between the Greeks and the Trojans over Helen of Troy.

Towards the end of the war, the Greeks had been struggling to get through Troy’s impenetrable walls, so they come up with a plan to trick the Trojans; they made a giant wooden horse out of the hulls of their ship and left it in a way that appeared like it was an offering from the gods.

The Trojans eventually wheeled the horse — and the Greek soldiers hiding inside — through the city gates. The Greeks sacked the city and slaughtered all the men.

“Our play begins at dawn the following day,” Dizdarevic said. “It tells the story of the women and children of Troy after all of the men have died and what happens to them as they are chosen by the various Greek generals and sent off to new lands to live as slaves.”

Commonwealth Theatre Company’s production features contemporary dress, original live music performed by the ensemble, and a cast ranging in age from 6-years-old to adult. Actors Jennifer Pennington and Heather Burns perform alongside student actors from CTC’s Walden Theatre Conservatory.

Dizdarevic said the modernization of the story is intentional.

“The day we started rehearsal was the day the news hit of displaced people being sold in Libya,” she said. “It’s just happening all over the world right now. Of course, with the current administration, the United States is taking fewer and fewer refugees, while the rest of the world is committing to taking millions of them.”

Representatives from Kentucky Refugee Ministries and Americana will be available in the lobby after performances to inform audiences about how they can take action and improve the lives of people who have experienced events like those in the play.

CTC is also facilitating a donation drive to help fulfill the KRM “winter needs” list.

“I think it is important at this point for us as Americans to be discussing our values and to really reflect on the fact that we are a nation of immigrants and think about what we can do to help other people,” Dizdarevic said.

"The Trojan Women" runs through Feb. 3. More info is available here.