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‘IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK’ addresses the global refugee crisis and makes its NYC premiere

'IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK'. Photo by Marion Schoevaert.
'IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK'. Photo by Marion Schoevaert.

In Parentheses and Lailou Productions present IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK, a thought-provoking and timely production that weaves together the age-old myth of Iphigenia with the modern-day refugee crisis through music, film, theater and dance, December 5-9, at The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture. This powerful performance, 20 years after the Iraq war, challenges the justifications for and mechanisms of war, offering audiences an opportunity to bear witness to the staggering impact of conflicts and displacement on a global scale, all narrated through the eyes of the first refugee, Iphigenia.

Today, as we witness an unprecedented wave of displacement, with a staggering 65.6 million people worldwide forced from their homes, including 22.5 million children, IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK emerges as a creative response to this ongoing crisis, while drawing inspiration from Euripides’ iconic plays, “Iphigenia in Aulis” and “Iphigenia in Tauris.” Utilizing these ancient narratives as central metaphors, the production offers a modern twist to the poignant tradition of ancient Greek women’s laments who becomes the subject of a divine conflict when her father, Agamemnon, must choose to sacrifice her to secure favorable winds for the Greek troops en route to the Trojan War. This timeless tale sheds light on the immense suffering experienced by refugees caught in the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict and the arduous journeys they undertake to escape violence.

Lisa Schlesinger’s IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK is a3-part journey that incorporates various artistic elements to convey its powerful message. Syrian composer Kinan Azmeh blends classical and modern Western and Arabic music to create a rich polyphonic score, while Irina Patkanian’s documentary film provides uncut glimpses of everyday struggles in the lives of refugees, capturing their stories over three years including footage from a refugee camp in Lesvos.

The play merges the language of the Iphigenia myth with contemporary war reportage, combat terminology, military weaponry, and UN Declarations, while Hussein Smko, an Iraqi survivor of five wars, contributes his unique self-taught multi-disciplinary vocabulary that fuses theater dance, Middle East folk dance Dabke and lamentation movements to create highly specific yet universal ritualistic movements. Tae Sup Lee’s minimalistic design elements evoke universal spaces for ritual, and experimental theater director Marion Schoevaert orchestrates live music, film, text, dance and theater into a contemporary wedding funeral performance ritual. 

“This production is a requiem for those who have perished, a memorial for those left behind, a hymn to life for survivors, and a call for justice for all those displaced and lost to war,” notes Schoevaert. “While the refugee crisis continues to escalate all over the world and right here in New York City, this work represents the resolve, the strength and the enduring humanity that defines the refugee experience.”

IPHIGENIA POINT BLANK will take place December 5-9, at The Sheen Center for Thought and Culturelocated at 18 Bleecker Street in the heart of NOHO. Tickets are available on a sliding scale to keep the event accessible: $95, $65, $35, and $20 and available at www.sheencenter.org/events/detail/iphigenia-point-blank

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