The Sky Is Safe

Summerhall and Scottish tour

August - September 2017

The Sky is Safe, written by Matthew Zajac, is based on interviews Matthew did with a group of Syrian refugee women in Istanbul in early 2017. Reflecting on their challenging but relatively safe lives in Istanbul, the women take us back to the horror of living in and then escaping from the tragedy of the Syrian war. These verbatim accounts are woven around the central narrative of Gordon, a westerner who meets and exploits Amal, a refugee working as an escort, for his own ends.

Dana Hajaj played the central character with passion, force and delicacy, embodying eight different women.

A beautiful set by Nihad Al Turk, one of the very few (90) Syrian refugees accepted by Edinburgh City Council,and one of the leading visual artists in Syria, was illuminated by video designs by Tim Reid and lighting by John Wilkie, with a stunning sound design by Pippa Murphy.

The production won summer hall’s Lustrum award for outstanding performance.

Miriam Lazinnar, EdFest Magazine

The Sky is Safe is an emotionally charged and politically powerful masterpiece. It tells the story of the meeting between a privileged westerner and a Syrian refugee who meet in Istanbul. Embedded in the dialogue are the sub-stories of many Syrian refugee women and the horrors and scars of war. Matthew Zajac has written a beautiful and accessible script about the Syrian tragedy. The poetic language used – plus the beauty and brutality of the captivating images created by director Ben Harrison – produce such juxtaposition and potent intensity, making the audience uncomfortable as they sit at the edge of their seats aware of their safety and fortunate circumstances. The energy and chemistry between both performers, including Zajac himself, is hypnotising. The other half of the two-hander, Dana Hajal, gives an extraordinary and emotionally draining performance, effectively bringing the stories of these women to life. Furthermore, the show is visually clever, with graffiti art-like animation and street POV videos projected onto the set, allowing the city of Istanbul to come to life right in front of our eyes.

Claire Wood, The Wee Review

Both actors in Dogstar’s new production are superb, switching effortlessly between a myriad of characters. Dana Hajaj’s multiple women are presented with grace, compassion and perfectly pitched emotion. Directed by Ben Harrison, this is a pacey, polished and visually rich production. The set is minimal but well-used and enhanced beautifully by set designer Nihad Al Turk, a Syrian visual artist who moved to Scotland with his family from a refugee camp in Lebanon.

David Kettle, The List

This timely, urgent work is convincingly delivered by Zajac himself and Palestinian / Lebanese actor Dana Hajaj, and with an evocative set design by Nihad Al Turk… full of compelling fury and hope.