‘A Thousand Ships’ by Natalie Haynes

‘A Thousand Ships’ by Natalie Haynes

Cyprus’ ‘Project Season Women’ will be presenting a staged reading of Natalie Haynes’ novel ‘A Thousand Ships’, directed by Magdalena Zira and Athina Kasiou, on February 22nd 2020, at the British Museum in London. By Elena Panayides

The best-selling novel retells the Troy myth, that has huge cultural significance for Western civilisation as a story of male heroism, through a choral narration of multiple female characters. The main narrator is Calliope, Muse of epic poetry, who answers the poet’s invocation to “sing” the story of the Trojan War, in an unexpected way:

‘…I have sung of the women, the women in the shadows. I have sung of the forgotten, the ignored, the untold. I have picked up the old stories and I have shaken them until the hidden women appear in plain sight. I have celebrated them in song because they waited long enough. Just as I promised him: this was never the story of one woman, or two. It was the story of all of them.’

Following Project Season’s all day, sold-out reading of ‘A Thousand Ships’ in Greek with 25 actresses, as part of the Nicosia International Festival in November 2019, described by professor Edith Hall as a “grand epic gesture…reclaiming the stories of the Trojan War”, the British Museum invited these creatives to produce a similar performance on February 22nd, in the context of their ‘Creative Responses to Troy’, series of events accompanying their current exhibition ‘Troy: myth and reality. ‘

The burden is heavy for the author, the performer, and for the audience, because the text invites us to face the real horror of those epic events, to question what heroism really means and to wonder which stories we should be telling today. It shakes-up an old value system, while remembering the women, the slaves, the marginalized. It poses questions such as, if we tell these stories today, how do we speak to our contemporary realities? A war does not ignore half the people whose lives it touches. So why do we?

A brilliant team of 20 actresses from Cyprus and the UK will be performing the reading in English, in promenade performances at three different locations of the British Museum, on February 22nd from 11:00 to 16:00. Admission is free. If you’re in London, don’t miss this unique experience.

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