In a small, soundproof rehearsal room in the mountains just outside Beirut, Lebanon’s first all-female metal band, Slave to Sirens, is getting ready to make some noise. Shery Bechara and Lilas Mayassi, the five-piece’s lead and rhythm guitarists, respectively, unzip cases to reveal their V-shaped axes, and vocalist Maya Khairallah warms up with a practice growl, the raw sound ripping out of her small frame with startling volume. Bassist Alma Doumani is tuning up her instrument while drummer Tatyana Boughaba shakes her thick, waist-length hair out of the way, adjusts her leather jacket and gives her sticks a twirl.
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.