This story was originally published by Al Jazeera.
June 24, 2015
Beirut, Lebanon – Less than a year ago, 24-year-old Tareq Hebbewe was a militiaman wielding an AK-47 and participating in bloody clashes in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.
The fighting pitted Bab al-Tabbaneh, Hebbewe’s predominantly Sunni neighbourhood that supports the Syrian opposition, against the largely Alawite population of Jabal Mohsen, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“I used to think that if I saw someone from Jabal Mohsen I’d kill him,” said Hebbewe. “Now, I love them a lot.”
Today, the only gun Hebbewe carries is the fake one he takes on stage when he acts out the role of the sniper in “Love and War on the Rooftop – a Tripolitan Tale”.
The pen is mightier than the sword, so the saying goes. In Lebanon, Zeina Daccache is trying to overcome modern warfare’s guns, shells and barrel bombs, armed with nothing more than an arsenal of therapeutic theatre techniques.
Since 2011, more than three million Syrians have fled their homeland to escape the continuing violence. In Lebanon, theatre techniques are being used as a means of empowering these displaced people, both intellectually and psychologically.
In a society where therapy is taboo, drama workshops serve as a socially acceptable means for refugees to talk about their experiences and emotions. Amid growing tensions between displaced Syrians and their Lebanese hosts, theatre productions also allow refugee voices to be heard by a wider public.