Escape from Troy

Escape from Troy is a site-specific spectacle about throwing your lot in with the sea: about the agonising, terror-driven decision to be a refugee.

My script is a mashup of The Trojan Women combined with the oral histories of Latvian refugees.

As Latvia became a battleground at the end of World War Two, scores of families climbed into boats in the chill of November and fled to Sweden, risking their lives.  

In my story, Hecuba, Andromache, the boy Astyanax and Cassandra arrive exhausted on a beach. They have lost everything; Troy is burning. The conquering Greeks will enslave the women and the boy will be slaughtered unless they can escape. Is there room in the boat?

Performed outdoors by actors, singers, choirs and a military marching band, I staged Escape from Troy on a beach in ‘Karosta’, the former military sector of Liepāja for the international festival SEAS in 2004. Thanks to the support of the municipal government, an audience of a thousand people was able to pick their way through the forest and sit on bleachers on top of a cliff to watch our show. The premiere was filmed live by Latvian TV,

 Critic Edīte Tišheizere wrote:

“It could have been just a performance, but it turned into a special event, which you just happened to witness. Escape from Troy for me became a kind of joyous (though the show is tragic) surprise: it turns out there is another way to look at life! B. Rubess pulls everything into her show that comes her way, her Troy as an artifact is such an open system that the tiniest detail can find its niche there…It had never occurred to me that B. Rubess is a romantic. Because only a romantic can make a production with the belief that art can change the world.” Diena, August 24, 2004

This was the most physically taxing show I have ever created. The conductor and baritone Ivars Cinkuss in the role of Aeneas literally risked his life by wading into a wild sea. There were many times when I wished I had a remote control and could press ‘pause’ just to make the waves stop crashing for a second. It was supremely exciting. Music by Nic Gotham.

Produced by Helēna Reitupe for Latvia’s New Theatre Institute and Sweden’s Intercult, the Latvian title is Glābšanās no Trojas. Ivars Mailītis and Kristīne Jurjāne were our designers. Photos by Ruta Kuplā, Arturs Pērkons and Ivars Mailītis. Filmed and broadcast on Latvian TV. 

Available on DVD with English subtitles.

Karina Tatarinova - Andromahe, Anita Kvāla - Hecuba

Olga Dreģe as Helen of Troy