A NEW “uplifting” adaptation of an ancient play will be put on by a cast of Syrian refugees living in Glasgow.

Performed in Arabic (with subtitles) and English, The Trojans is a version of Euripides’ anti-war tragedy The Trojan Women reworked to include the direct experiences of exile and loss of the 17 cast members, whose original writing is included in the script.

The production is the culmination of nine months of drama workshops at Platform in the city’s Easterhouse and sees the adaptation directed by Victoria Beesley of community theatre company Terra Incognita.

First shown in Athens in 415 BC, while the city was in the middle of its long war with Sparta, the play is set on the morning after the fall of Troy. The men have been murdered. The women, held captive while their city is set alight, are about to be sent into slavery.

Beesley says that the group – which includes men as well as women – found they recognised passages in the 2500-year-old work from their own lives.

“There are lots of resonances with the original text, particularly reflecting on how a city has been physically destroyed, what that looks like and how that actually feels,” Beesley says. “There’s a beautiful bit by Hecuba where she talks about how she physically feels because of war.”

Finding connection with the play helped people express their own experiences, some of which were then worked into the piece. Other parts were discarded to make way for an ending more optimistic than the original in which the sufferings of the Trojan women are compounded by enslavement and yet more barbarity.

“We really worked on this being an honest reflection of the experiences of the people we’re working with,” says Beesley. “Thankfully, they have found safety and are able to look more hopefully towards their future, so the ending is more about hope and the resilience of people.”

Euripides wrote the Trojan Women to humanise the enemies of Athens and it was highly controversial at the time.

“It was to encourage people to feel empathy for people in the situation of being forced to be refugees, forced to be involved in a war they didn’t necessarily want to be involved in,” says Beesley. “What’s frustrating is that people are experiencing similar things to what people were experiencing in 415 BC. That’s what’s really striking about this, that as humanity in some ways we haven’t progressed at all.”

The Easterhouse production is part of Trojan Women Project, which was set up by William Stirling and Charlotte Eagar in 2013 in Jordan.

With the support of psychologists, it’s hoped there are therapeutic benefits for the refugee artist-performers in telling their stories.

“I've witnessed the positive effects,” Beesley says. “Certainly for some of them, there's been this physical change, this weight has been lifted off them with the opportunity to share their stories. It's been really powerful and amazing to witness.

“For others, they don't want to think about the terrible stuff that's happened. They want to look towards the future and not towards the past.”

She adds: “It hasn't just been about people coming along and putting on a show, it's given them a wider network of support within Glasgow, they've become a close-knit group.

"Another thing that's been really is is how much ownership this group have of the show now. Through sharing their thoughts and their ideas, it really feels like it's their show; that they're saying what they want to say.”

February 8 and 9, Platform, Glasgow, Feb 8 7pm, Feb 9 2pm, £8.50, £5 concs. Tel: 0141 276 9696. www.platform-online.co.uk www.terraincognita.org.uk