Learn, lead, heal and thrive
through theatre and play
Seenaryo is a leading specialist in theatre and play-based learning with under-served communities in Lebanon and Jordan. We use theatre and play to transform education and support people to learn, lead, heal and thrive in their classrooms and communities. Reaching over 110,000 children, youth and women since 2015, Seenaryo is winner of the Arts, Culture & Heritage prize at the 2023 UK Charity Awards, has received a 2023 Innovation Award from TheirWorld and was one of Expo 2020 Dubai’s 120 Global Innovators.
Visit Seenaryo’s online shop where you can buy our bilingual children’s book and greetings cards – all created by Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian children.
Watch our short film about facilitating peace through theatre. This is part of a project with 80 women in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, in partnership with Women Now and UN Women.
Read Anum Mahmood’s article about Seenaryo’s theatre projects empowering refugee women in Lebanon and Jordan, published by The Borgen Project.
people to date
children reached through the Seenaryo Playkit
teachers trained to use play in the classroom
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 participants
Accessibility & inclusivity
in terms of creating spaces and resources that actively engage and amplify traditionally excluded groups
Effective women's participation
at all levels, including organisational structure as well as programme design and delivery
The intrinsic value of artistic excellence
beyond its use as a tool for social impact
Through theatre and play, we support under-served communities in Lebanon and Jordan to find their voices as powerful agents of change
- Facilitate skills development by supporting individuals to build social skills, life skills, critical thinking and wellbeing
- Challenge mistrust and polarisation by bringing conflict-affected communities in dialogue with each other
- Create wider and alternative employment pathways and professional capacity within classrooms and communities
- Transform teaching and learning to become child-centred, engaging and inclusive
- Advocate globally for play-based learning and participatory theatre in the Arab region
Lebanon and Jordan are among the countries hosting the most refugees per capita 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 (one of the world’s worst since the 1850s according to the World Bank).
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
Seenaryo in communities
Using a participatory approach to theatre, we facilitate the production of powerful, imaginative and collaborative plays, which puts participants at the centre of the creative process. We also train former participants to lead theatre projects in their own communities.
A few words from
Oscar-nominated Jessie Buckley
Meet our participants
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
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
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
Peace, justice and strong institutions
Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels
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 Showbuild: 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 has now co-led a Cycle project and assistant directed a Seenaryo Studio production. 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.