through theatre and play
Seenaryo is a leading specialist in theatre and play-based learning with marginalised communities in Lebanon and Jordan. Having reached 67,000 children, youth and women to date, we use theatre and play to transform education and equip people with the tools to collaborate, think critically and build transferable skills. Seenaryo is one of Expo 2020 Dubai’s 120 Global Innovators, has lectured for New York University on their Teacher Fellowship, and has been featured in Al Jazeera and Prospect Magazine.
The Queendom of Colours
We are over the moon to present our bilingual children’s book, illustrated by Syrian artist Ammar Khattab.
An adaptation of the very first Seenaryo show written by children in Jordan, The Queendom of Colours is a story of friendship, exile and forgiveness.
Emerald and Indigo live in a refugee camp in the Queendom of Colours. When the Queendom loses its colour, who will bring it back?
During the first Covid lockdown, 150 Seenaryo participants came together over Zoom to write lyrics and create choreography for a music video. When restrictions eased, we met in small groups to film.
Watch broadcaster Mishal Husain in conversation with Lina Khatib, Wael Lazkani & our own Victoria Lupton. The webinar is free to watch on YouTube.
Last year we had our most impactful year to date, reaching over 30,000 people in Lebanon & Jordan. Watch our 2020 video to find out more.
beneficiaries to date
children reached through the Seenaryo Playkit
children reached through I Learn From Home during Covid 19
original theatre productions created to date
at all levels including the way in which we run workshops, work with partners and train teachers – allowing all voices to be heard
that use science and research to inform our programme content, rollout and monitoring and evaluation strategy
Deep rootedness in local contexts & partnerships
working with and for communities for the long term
Agility & innovation
in our use of technology, our approach to teaching and learning, and our responses to the changing needs of beneficiaries
Accessibility & inclusivity
in terms of reaching those most in need as well as in our pedagogical ethos
The intrinsic value of artistic excellence
beyond its use as a tool for social impact
Through theatre and play, we support marginalised people to be powerful agents of their own lives and positive contributors to society
Facilitate the creation of powerful, high-quality performances
Support individuals in building social skills, life skills, and wellbeing
Foster social cohesion within and between refugee communities and host groups
Facilitate intercultural understanding within the Arab region and with countries outside it
Increase employment opportunities and professional capacity within teaching and facilitation
Transform teaching and learning to become child-centred, engaging and inclusive
Lebanon and Jordan have the highest per capita proportion of refugees worldwide: 1 in 4 people in Lebanon, and 1 in 12 in Jordan. Half of these refugees are children according to UNHCR.
Moreover, these countries’ native populations are increasingly vulnerable due to the recession in the wake of Covid-19, donor fatigue around the Syrian crisis and an unprecedented economic crisis in Lebanon (the World Bank estimates 50% of the population to be under the poverty line).
Lebanon has seen two successive governments collapse since anti-government protests began in October 2019, and the Beirut explosion in August destroyed much of the country’s capital.
This economic and political fragility damages already frail education systems in both countries, from NGO emergency education to public schools to private schools.
Children from vulnerable communities in Lebanon and Jordan suffer from high levels of toxic stress, which ‘disrupts the architecture of the developing brain’ (US National Scientific Council on the Developing Child). 59% of school-aged refugees in Lebanon and nearly a third of all children in Jordan are not in school.
The MENA region has the world’s highest youth unemployment rate; and Lebanon and Jordan face unprecedented brain drain. Youth lack access to quality employment or training opportunities. Many reach adulthood without having the opportunity to develop social and emotional skills and critical thinking, let alone professional capacities.
According to the Gender Gap Index 2020, Lebanon and Jordan are respectively 145th and 138th of 153 countries. The labour force participation rate for women is 26% in Lebanon and only 15% in Jordan. They are also affected by social and political marginalisation and an increase in sexual and gender-based violence.
The Lebanese and Jordanian Ministries of Education find they have an ‘unskilled teaching force’ (Jordan Response Plan), blaming out-dated pedagogy, ‘not as learner-centred as industry standards require, lacking a life-skills base’ (Lebanon Crisis Response Plan).
What we do
We work with children, youth and women, facilitating the creation of original and high quality theatre, in which participants create their own narratives. While making theatre, we are continuously training up facilitators, trainees and youth leaders to lead the work themselves.
We’ve developed a bank of resources and training for early years teachers, supporting them to deliver their curriculum through childcentred and play-based methods. This includes the Seenaryo Playkit phone app, as well as distance learning initiatives supporting parents and teachers during Covid-19.
with Mishal Husain
Meet the cast of
I see my ghost coming from afar
Commitment to the
UN Sustainable Development Goals
We aim for Seenaryo’s goals to align with sector-wide and international goals for sustainable development (SDGs). Seenaryo’s programmes particularly focus on the below SDGs set by the United Nations.
Substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
Empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life
Decent work & economic growth
Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation
“I’ve learnt to be ambitious for my children, for them to have more than just a traditional education, to do things that will expand their horizons”
MOTHER OF A PARTICIPANT
“I stopped being stuck with my daily chores – cleaning, cooking, looking after the children. The Seenaryo team allowed us to forget our difficulties and have hope that there is a tomorrow.”
WOMEN’S THEATRE PARTICIPANT
“It has been a very difficult journey to be honest, but extremely rewarding. I realised that I am capable of looking after my children and providing them with the best education they need.”
I LEARN FROM HOME PARENT
Theatre reflects life
The participatory approach to theatre-making that Seenaryo has developed over five years puts participants at the heart of the process, giving them the responsibility and agency to create and write the play that they will perform.
Whether their plays are about real life or volcanoes and dinosaurs, the participants’ own stories are always present. The opportunity to mask their experiences in fairytale and fiction allow participants to express something they otherwise felt unable to express, and confront their feelings safely.
In the Middle
In this Seenaryo Studio show: a group of women decide to quit their troubles and fly to the moon. Ending up lost in space, they have to decide whether to stay where they are, return to Earth, or push on to the Moon. Theatre reflects life: in the face of hyperinflation, the economic collapse, and Covid-19 the majority of people living in Lebanon are looking for a way out.
The Village of Mujadara
In this Seenaryo Cycle show: the story, devised by Palestinian children, is about two wizards’ struggle for acceptance in a corrupt and polluted village. The parallels to the life of a Palestinian in Lebanon are clear.
Together, We Beat the Monster
In this Seenaryo Scratch show: monsters destroy all the homes in a city, so the citizens band together to rebuild. The story here is an unmistakable metaphor for the situation following the Beirut explosion.
“Seenaryo makes you feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel… and it’s you!”
Farah started as a participant with Seenaryo in 2015. She was 13 years old, playing the role of a genie in Careful What You Wish For. Over the last five years she has created and performed six shows with us including two Studio productions which toured nationally. In recent years she has also been training as a facilitator with Seenaryo and this year she co-led a Cycle project. Handing over the baton to the communities we work with has been Seenaryo’s ambition since inception, and it’s exciting to see this happen with Farah, who grew up in Shatila refugee camp.
“My leadership skills have been really enhanced by this project. I’ve become more confident, and more focused on what I want to do in life,” says Farah.
2020 foundations & institutional funders
The Abdalla Foundation, Anonymous, The Arthur and Holly Magill Foundation, Bund Deutscher Amateurtheater (BDAT), Canadian Government (CFLI), The European Union in Lebanon (via Back to the Future), Expo Live (An Expo 2020 Dubai Initiative), The Fore’s RAFT Fund, Forum Civil Peace Service Lebanon, Goethe-Institut Libanon, Goldman Sachs Matching Gift Programme, The Haas Family Giving Fund, Help Refugees: Choose Love (via Women Now for Development), Kids Rights, The Linbury Trust, Rebecca Dykes Foundation, Ruby & Minoo N. Master Charity Foundation, The Schroder Foundation, Search for Common Ground Lebanon, Siren Associates, SJNEFFL, Team Archie, UNFPA Jordan, Zinc Network
2020 partners, collaborators & clients
Al Abrar, Al Qabs, Amel Association, Andalos School, AVSI, Back to the Future (implemented by AVSI, War Child Holland in Lebanon and Terre des hommes Italy in Lebanon), Bareeq Centre, Beirut Art Center, Beit Atfal Alsoumoud, Care International – Jordan, Caritas Jordan, Caritas Lebanon (via Caritas Austria), Collateral Repair Project, Daam Ijtimaii, Dammeh, Dar Al Aytam Al Islamiya, Dawha School, East Amman Charitable Society, Einstein Kindergarten, Hammana Artist House, Haya Cultural Centre, Hourouf, House of Dreaming, INTERSOS, Jabal Zamzam Charitable Association, Jana Dan Academy, Jesuit Centre, Jesuit Refugee Service, Jordan Gate National Academy, Kun Thakiyan, Laziza Park, LOYAC Lebanon, Madraset Al Ibtikar wa Al Injaz Al Asasiyeh Al Mukhtalata, Minwal Theatre Company, Molham Orphanage, Naya for Training & Community Development, Orthodox Church Schools (Amman & Madaba), Ruwwad, Sama Al Badea, Sawiyan, Shams El Mustaqbal, Sunflower Theatre, Tahaddi Lebanon, Tahfeez Association, Union of Progressive Women, Waldorf School, Women Now for Development, WonderEight, Unite Lebanon Youth Project, UNRWA, Yaabad Scout Troupe, Y-PEER Network Jordan, Zaher Al Rumman Charitable Association