Greek Director Teaches Sophocles’ Tragedy to Women in Afghanistan

Anneta Papathanassiou“Playing with Fire” is a new documentary by Greek director and actress Anneta Papathanassiou who decided to teach Sophocles’ ancient Greek tragedy Antigone to women in Afghanistan. The documentary was shot one year ago in Kabul and depicts the lives of women who are playing with fire, risking their lives for their love of theater.

“I felt connected with Afghanistan: A country where after 30 years of war and the fall of the Taliban regime, theater began to bloom again. I watched what happened and at some point I saw a photo of two actors performing Moliere in Afghanistan. Firstly as an actor and secondary as a director, I was very interested and started exploring,” Papathanassiou said.

Sophocles Tragedies to Women in Afghanistan1“The head of the theater department at the University of Kabul and I decided to start seminars on Ancient Greek theater because there were no books on Ancient Drama in Afghanistan. After a long search for books, and while I did research on the Internet, I read about a girl who got the first prize in a theater festival in Afghanistan. I wanted to meet her. However, this meeting never happened. A few days before I arrived in Afghanistan, I learned that the actress had mysteriously died.”

In Kabul, being a woman and an actress is not far from being seen as a prostitute. All girls who have dared to perform in a play, fear for their lives. Actresses who are well-known in Afghanistan for playing on television and cinema, receive letters from the Taliban who are threatening to kill them.

During her stay at the university, the Greek director taught 200 male and 8 female students of which only one dared to play Sophocles’ Antigone. The others decided not to be involved and, more importantly, not announcing publicly that they want to become actors.

The film is expected to premiere on September 4, 2014 at Danaos cinema in Athens, Greece.