The Women of Gilgamesh


Saturday, 15th October 2022 | 16:00 - 18:00



This world premiere by distinguished Iraqi actress Badia Obaid is a telling of the ancient Babylonian poem Gilgamesh which concentrates on the Epic’s female voices – Shamhat, Shiduri, Ninsun, and others.  


The performance shows that female characters are allotted crucial roles, upon whom the overall storyline depends at key junctures. Moreover, they display a special wisdom which transcends that of men, and each contributes in their own way to the texture of the narrative and its thought-world.  


Indeed, the performance highlights that women ‘bookend’ the narrative. It is the womenfolk of the city of Uruk who, through their protests to the gods at Gilgamesh’s behaviour, ignite the train of events that forms the main arc of the story. Equally, Gilgamesh’s reason for returning home at the end of the story is that he is following the advice given to him by the ale-wife Shiduri (in the Old Babylonian version).  


Overall, the performance constitutes a piece of artistry in its own right, as well as a window onto the sociocultural history of women in the Mesopotamian world, and also a contribution to the interpretation of the poem’s literary artistry.



Badia Obaid

Arabic-speaking 'Zipang' Mesopotamian storyteller with a repertoire of stories from Ancient Iraq; born in Baghdad. She has a long career in the Arabic world and in the UK as an actress, voice over artist, writer, reporter, presenter and producer with work in theatre, film, television and radio. She has done many workshops in the UK and Italy.