The Suppliant Women – From Ancient Greece to The Lyceum

The Suppliant Women is at The Lyceum in Edinburgh, October 1-15. Photo by Thomas Campean

From October 1-15, one of the world’s oldest plays – The Suppliant Women – will be performed at The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.

Written 2,500 years ago by the great playwright Aeschylus and featuring new music, ancient instruments and a chorus of Edinburgh citizens, this latest version of The Suppliant Women is by The Lyceum’s Artistic Director, David Greig.

‘The Suppliant Women contains the birth of drama and the birth the democracy,” said David Greig. “Its central questions – about refugees, women’s rights, war and sex – feel so extraordinarily pertinent today.

‘The passion, bravery and commitment of our chorus’

“Working on the text has been one of the biggest challenges of my writing,” continued David Greig. “However, the biggest thrill for me has been witnessing the passion, bravery and commitment of our chorus, the thirty young women who have given their time to learn and sing the extraordinary role of the Suppliants.”

As well as group of young women in full chorus arguing for their lives, The Suppliant Women stars celebrated opera performer Omar Ebrahim as Danaos, father of the displaced women. Accompanying Omar on stage is 2015 Spotlight Prize nominee Edward Sayer and the professional cast is completed by the Chorus Leader, played by Gemma May.

Recruiting and training the people of Edinburgh

Using the techniques of Ancient Greek theatre by recruiting and training the people of Edinburgh to create this extraordinary theatrical event, The Suppliant Women will see female citizens play the title-role.

“As a director who has spent a lifetime on contemporary plays, it’s a palpable thrill to reach 2479 years back to the origin of theatre,” said Director Ramin Gray, who has worked in many of the UK’s most notable theatres. “I can’t wait to share the piece with audiences.”

The aulo would have likely accompanied original performances of The Suppliants

Composer John Browne wrote the score for the production, working closely with Barnaby Brown and Callum Armstrong, two of the only aulos players alive today.

The aulos, an ancient Greek reed instrument with two pipes requiring circular breathing, would have likely accompanied original performances of Aeschylus’ The Suppliants, and has not been heard in over 2,000 years.

“It’s such a rich mix – ancient minds communing with contemporary minds, seasoned pros with young amateurs, percussion with 2000 year old double-pipes, and music that’s both sacred and primitive,” said John Browne. “It feels totally alive and I just love it.”

For more information about The Suppliant Women, click here.


Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Grindlay Street, EH3 9AX

October 1 -15, 2016: 2pm and 7.30pm
Prices: £30.50 – £10.00
Audio Described: October 13, 7:30pm (touch tour – 6:15pm) and October 15, 2pm (touch tour – 12:45pm)
BSL Interpreted: October 12, 7:30pm
Captioned: October 15, 2pm

Following its Edinburgh run, The Suppliant Women will visit Belfast International Festival (October 21-22) and Northern Stage, Newcastle (November 3-5), where local women have again been recruited for the title role.