By Thanasis Gavos – London
A new play with a Cyprus related storyline, titled ‘Hidden in the Sand’, written and directed by James Phillips, will be presented to the London theatre-lovers from 1 October, at the central Trafalgar Studios 2.
The main heroine, Alexandra, is a refugee from the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 who has made a home in London, where for decades she cocoons herself from the ghosts of the past. Until one day she meets Jonathan, an English classical scholar who falls deeply in love with her – a chance meeting that sets in motion a journey of remembrance, overcoming grief and letting go of the past in order to live in the present. Set between London and Cyprus and against a backdrop of war and the partition of countries, ‘Hidden in the Sand’ is a beautiful and passionate story of a love that endures distance and time.
“I knew very little about Cyprus, like many English people. I met someone, a Cypriot who described to me Famagusta and Varosha, and how the streets have been empty for so many years following the invasion. That started my interest in the situation in Cyprus and I realised there were human stories there. Then my research started, reading books and visiting Cyprus. The research took 18 months and more,” James Phillips tells IBNA.
The story bears many resemblances with the stories of thousands of Cypriots currently living in London, hoping that some day they will return home. “Cypriots in London and Cyprus have been incredibly generous and welcoming with their stories and very keen for them to be told. I am excited for these people to have their stories told. It is something English people should know about,” says Mr Phillips.
The writer and director points out that this is not a political play: “Not in the sense of having a big agenda. It’s about people to whom history happens. In wars and invasions things happen to ordinary people and they have to deal with them. It is a play about the politics of that, but politics with a small ‘p’; it’s about how politics affects people’s real life, and their passions and their love affairs. That’s my job. I’m not a politician, I don’t write newspaper columns. My job is to write about people and what happens to them.”
The play seems to be one of the few that refer to ethnic minorities living in such a multicultural city as London. Mr Phillips agrees: “There are not many. They are probably more than in the past, but it is something theatre is learning to get better at. However, this is not about one ethnic group. What fascinates me is that it is about such an obviously human and accessible dilemma. People lost their homes and loved ones and they had to move to another country, hoping that they might one day be able to return. Everyone can understand that, everyone can understand what happened to Cyprus, they just don’t know about it. So I hope we can let people know a little bit about this situation,” says James Phillips.
The main character is played by the award winning actress Sally Dexter. The cast also features Daphne Alexander, who is of Cypriot origin, Scott Handy and Yolanda Vazquez. ‘Hidden in the Sand’ will be on until 26th October.