Lebanon: using theatre as therapy in prison

Prisoners have a lot to say.

How can you talk about something that’s difficult to say? How do you talk about something when no one wants to listen? Drama therapy is a combination of psychology and theatre, and Zeina Daccache uses it in prison. Zeina is an actress and clinical psychologist who studied drama therapy at Kansas University (United States). She is the founder and director of Catharsis, the first therapeutic theatre centre in Lebanon and in the Arab region. She set up the organisation in 2007 and has been going to prisons producing plays with prisoners ever since.

She produced three documentaries about the projects conducted in two different facilities. Her first film, Twelve Angry Lebanese (2009), was filmed in the men’s prison in Roumieh. Her second, Scheherazade’s Diary (2013), follows women in Baabda prison. The Blue Inmates (2021), filmed in Roumieh, shows the treatment of prisoners with mental health problems.

Zeina Daccache opens the floodgates of unspoken words Important words that have a very real impact on prisoners. Now we will let her speak.

- Photos sent by Zeina Daccache / Credits : Catharsis - LCDT

They are not merely criminals. They are more than that, and they have a lot to say.

Drama therapy concentrates on movement and role play. We make up scenarios.

I knew it was possible to be held in prison for up to seven or eight years without a conviction. Apart from that, I knew nothing.

I always had a camera with me in prison.


Poverty outside is the same inside prisons. Some prisoners wear the same clothes for a month, which results in skin problems.

The films of Zeina Daccache

  • Twelve Angry Lebanese (2009):

In Arabic
With English subtitles

  • Scheherazade’s Diary (2013) :

In Arabic
With English subtitles

  • The Blue Inmates (2021) :