Persians. Triumph of Empathy a Theatre Production by Action Zoo Humain and NTGent

Persians. Triumph of Empathy

In 'Persians. Triumph of Empathy,' director Chokri Ben Chikha examines the empathic capacity of six performers. Do they succeed in looking differently at a decades-old highly polarized conflict through the lens of a Greek tragedy?

One of the spearheads of theatre company Action Zoo Humain, artist in residence at NTGent, is to confront Western cultural heritage with the reality of a multi-voiced world. Led by Chokri Ben Chikha, the performers look at the long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine through the lens of the oldest tragedy in the theatrical canon: Aeschylus' The Persians.

Did Aeschylus, who himself fought against the Persians, write about them with genuine empathy or did his tragedy instead affirm the superiority of the Greeks? What parallels can we draw between past and present?

Persians. Triumph of Empathy thus balances between art and reality, opportunism and empathy. In the multidisciplinary theatre performance, Ben Chikha challenges the young generation to sharpen their personal, political and artistic visions on the two main elements of tragedy: empathy and pride. The ordeal is made all the more acute by a polyphonic chorus of Palestinians and Israelis who were interviewed by Ben Chikha when he was in the region in January 2024.

Concept/direction/choreography Chokri Ben Chikha
With and by Hellen Boyko, Liah Frank, Marah Haj Hussein, Mareille Labohm, Leblalta Abdennacer (Iskara_Alonzo), Rateb Syassi
Script Erik-Ward Geerlings
Film Jan Beddegenoodts
Dramaturgy Sietske De Vries
Soundscape Jo Thielemans
Light design Dennis Diels
Set design Karolien De Schepper
Costume design Chloe Wasselin-Dandre
Movement direction Izah Hankammer, Daisy Phillips
Production NTGent & Action Zoo Humain
Coproduction Theater Rotterdam
Partners Stad Gent en de Vlaamse Gemeenschap

With the support of the Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government