Theater as an alternative for conflict, ‘Sakakine’ play roams Lebanon

Photo credits: Heba Rachrach Ⓒ UNDP 2015

‘Sakakine’ (Knives) is a play directed by Ali Dia and produced by YNCA (Young Network for Civic Activism). Promoting social stability and respect of differences, local NGO YNCA is creating an alternative space to gather Lebanese and Syrians. The play was shown on 14 and 15 November 2015 at Beit El Fan theater in Tripoli, North Lebanon and Gazza theater in Bekaa, following two shows in Marjaayoun last February.

The play is supported by the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project with the financial contribution of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development through KfW.

“With more than 40 days of extensive work and rehearsals, we were able to see a difference in the behavior of the Lebanese and Syrian actors. At first, Lebanese and Syrians separated themselves” said Dany Kalakech, executive manager of YNCA before adding that “this long road broke all barriers. We no longer see small isolated groups; they are one team of friends now. It is not by accident that the project was developed in a time when we need solidarity.”

Also speaking of the play’s goal, president of YNCA Leila Serhan, said that “these kinds of projects are effective in bringing the Lebanese society back together.” She explains “there were certain social disconnections in the Lebanese community before the Syrian crisis. Positive initiatives like ‘Sakakine’ succeeded at gathering Lebanese from North to South with Syrians in one space.”

Photo Credits: Heba Rachrach © UNDP 2015

For Ali Dia “this play is some sort of therapy to overcome the ongoing problems between Lebanese and Syrians. I think we managed to treat and display the reality as it is, without exaggeration.”

The actors let go their prejudgments and shared the stage in front of more than 300 multicultural attendees. “I thought Lebanese were so different. But after rehearsing for so long with them, I know now that we have so much in common. I no longer feel like a stranger in Lebanon” said Souhaib El Khatib, Leading Syrian actor in ‘Sakakine’.

His fellow Lebanese actor, Ali Bitar, also said “it is wonderful performing in front of different audiences, their feedback keep us going. This play helped me accept ‘others’ and make new honest friendships.”

YNCA believes that theater can be a transparent alternative for conflicts as it provides a common ground for people to meet and share their side of the story without barriers.

‘Sakakine’ was also shown on November 30th 2015 in Metro Al Madina Theater, Beirut.

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