“Frontlines Inside Our Minds”

“I don’t want to become another Em Riad when I go back to Aleppo” said Sarah, a Syrian student from Chouf on stage during a playback theatre[1] performance on January 12, 2018.

The Fighters for Peace (FFP) NGO, funded and supported by the UNDP “Peace Building in Lebanon” project, organized a playback theatre performance about stories and memories of war.

FFP is the only organization in Lebanon that unites former fighters in the Lebanese civil war from different political, religious and social backgrounds with the mission of preventing relapsing into war. The ex-fighters collaborated with the troupe of the Tripoli-based SADA Playback Theater[2] who performed together with Beirut-based Laban playback theatre members.

The session was held at Antwork, Beirut, and hosted around 200 Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian participants from Chouf, Bekaa, North, and South Lebanon. Students, children, parents and older generations were present listening and telling their stories of the civil war, each from his side of the country.

Em Riad is a woman from Beirut, who fled the war and moved to Chouf,” explained Sarah. “She was shot in her arm and it was paralyzed during the fights. She has Alzheimer’s now. She forgot everything about her past, but she carries her paralyzed arm, and its memory throughout her days. That’s the story she tells every day.” The student continued, “I don’t want to carry the memories of the war with me forever, I want to heal and my home country to heal.”

Following Sarah, Wiam from Beirut was encouraged to share her story too. “I grew up during the war. I learned the names of so many Lebanese areas. Not because of geography class, but because of the number of times we moved. We slept in cars, shelters, mosques, schools and churches. My siblings and I even learned to hide knives in our socks to defend ourselves, because armed fighters were waiting around every corner on the streets. These are the only memories I have from my childhood.” She added, “I hope my children will never witness that, but I’m not 100 percent sure the Lebanese will not repeat this mistake again.”

“The war did end on the frontline. After all these years, without reconciliation efforts, these same frontlines are still inside our minds,” from the other side of the hall, said Hussein from Baysarieh, South Lebanon. Hussein was born on April 13, the day the war started.

The audience was moved by the stories told based on memories of the war, whether from Lebanon or Syria. They cried and laughed together.

The group of people who filled the hall as strangers at first, left it as a close-knit group.


[1] Playback theatre is a form of improvisational theater in which audience or group members tell stories from their lives and watch them enacted immediately by an ensemble of actors, Escola de Cultura de Pau, http://escolapau.uab.es/img/programas/musica/strategic_arts.pdf



[2] The SADA troupe was formed recently in Tripoli with the support of the UNDP.  It aims at sharing the stories of Tripoli residents and their memories, seeking to contribute to the city’s reconciliation.



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