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Founded in July 2007 by actress Zeina Daccache, Catharsis is the first non-profit organisation in Lebanon to promote and offer ‘drama therapy’ which involves the use of art and theatre to address issues in a person’s life and rehabilitates society's marginalized through drama theory.
Catharsis was founded on the belief that the incorporation of drama and expressive arts in therapy is an effective and empowering method for problem solving, promoting growth and wellbeing within individuals and groups; and that the arts can build bridges between cultures and different segments of society.
Catharsis offers services and programs in various social, educational and therapeutic settings such as schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, prisons, private and public clinics for children and adults. Drama therapy aims to help people address various social, health and educational issues they are experiencing. Individuals who participate are able to explore various life problems and improve their quality of life through the use of artistic expression including art, theatre and drama.
Catharsis produced a play entitled "12 angry Lebanese" where roles were performed by male prisoners in Roumieh Prison, the biggest in the country. It was adapted from the classic American play 12 Angry Men. After 15 months of training, 45 inmates performed before audiences that included Interior Minister at that period Ziad Baroud. For Mother’s Day in 2009, parents of the inmates were invited to watch the play. A documentary on the play won Best Documentary at the International Dubai Festival the same year.
A documentary entitled "Sheherazade's diary" combined stories of female prisoners in Baabda prison in Mount Lebanon, and won several awards and was screened at the French festival "Cinema du Sud". It played in cinemas in November 2014.
Another project was "Shebaik Lebaik", a play and folkloric performance performed by migrant workers describing their lives in Lebanon. This unusual experience was documented on a DVD. Another project was "From the bottom of my brain". It was performed first in 2013 by residents of AlFanar hospital for neuropsychiatric disorders. It is reproduced every now and then.
The latest play entitled "Johar... Up in the air" is part of a broader EU-funded project pushing to reform the country's penal system, especially what concerns mentally ill prisoner. Catharsis has worked in collaboration with members of the Lebanese parliament and foreign judges to draft new legislative proposals, which are currently in the process of being submitted to parliament for discussion.
Founder Zeina Daccache encouraged other directors use drama therapy with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Catharsis organized several drama therapy sessions for Syrian women refugees and others from hosting communities in the North.
Last updated: August 2016