NAYA| Playback Theater: Empowering women

The audience share moments and incidents from their daily lives and watch them enacted on the spot by professional actors using music, movement, and dialogue to exemplify the story.
by Ghadir Hamadi

19 July 2019 | 18:23

Source: by Annahar

  • by Ghadir Hamadi
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 19 July 2019 | 18:23

Actors and actresses warming up before the show. (Annahar Photo).

BEIRUT: Tens flooded to Shabebik cultural center on Thursday, July 18 to attend Wasl by Laban’s playback theater performance.

This week’s performance was dedicated to highlighting women’s stories as a means to empower them.

Playback theater is improvisational in its approach. The audience share moments and incidents from their daily lives and watch them enacted on the spot by professional actors using music, movement, and dialogue to exemplify the story.

Wasl by Laban’s performance is part of a project aimed at strengthening access to protection, participation and services for women refugees, IDPs, and host communities.

A group of five actors and actresses kick started the show by performing a short sketch portraying the pain some women endure during their menstrual cycle. They also questioned why the topic remains a secret or taboo in some cases.

The second sketch aimed at shedding light on the challenges women face living in a misogynistic society.

“How hard is it for a man to be proud of his sister’s achievements?” the performance seemed to ask, while also questioning why men rarely boast about their sisters' or partners' achievements in comparison to how much women support their male partners or brothers.

Building on this topic, a young man in the audience shot his hand up to share his story.

“I recently started a new job and much to my dismay, at first, my boss was not only a woman, but she was also several years younger than me,” he said.

However, he decided to do what only seemed logical: to reconsider what's making him that upset.

“When I though it through, I realized that she’s actually a very good boss and we’d make a great team if only I left my ego on the side; and that’s what I did,” he said.

The actors and actresses enacted his short story as the audience cheered on.

The owner of the cultural center Faten Zein, followed the young man to then share her own story. 

As a single mom of two boys, Zein had a private business where she’d make and sell food in order to sustain her small family.

Soon enough, other women with similar circumstances joined the business that started growing steadily. 

During the 2018 parliamentary elections, Zein was advised to become a candidate for the parliamentary elections.

“You are already helping people in your society, why not help them on a much bigger scale?” asked many people in her community.

“I ran for the elections as an independent candidate, and lost,” she stated.

Accordingly, she decided to turn this loss into something more positive that would enhance her community.

Zein decided to open the cultural center, Shabebik, a space dedicated to supporting anyone that has “a dream.”

Shabebik is a space, free of rent, for people to hold music lessons, language courses, arts and cultural events, for free or at discounted prices.

The actors and actresses enacted her story to the audience that, at this point, was stifling back tears.

One of the actors played the oud while the rest played out the story dramatically.

“It’s a seemingly never-ending cycle,” they chanted. “Politicians make promises during elections but forget the people afterwards, and the citizens are left to fend for themselves.”

The audience’s cheers raised and side conversations erupted about the pattern that Lebanese politics has been in for nearly thirty years now.

Farah Wardani, member at Wasl by Laban ended the show by telling the audience that “this show stimulated dialogue and revealed different perspectives. It promoted deep listening and welcomed unheard voices.

“At the end of the day, this theater is an effort to encourage individuals from all walks of life to let their stories be heard, we hope we did that today,” she said.


Welcome to “Naya,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations. Naya Editor, Sally Farhat: [email protected]

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