“You know, it’s always frightening for me to go to a performance. I always feel like I’m on fire.”

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Episode notes

Hani al Rstum is a Syrian living in Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli, and the conductor for the SADA playback theatre troupe. They engage with communities affected by serious conflict, with the goal of recognising and affirming life experiences, and opening dialogue.

Playback draws on psychodrama therapy, and Hani himself is a psychotherapist. He “conducts” events to create a safe space for people to share experiences, and to begin to connect and empathise.

The troupe is based in a social innovation hub on the frontline of one of Lebanon’s most notorious neighbourhood conflicts. It has also performed on-site in buildings with special connections to the war.

We talk about:

  • Hani’s experience as a Syrian in Lebanon, and what the future might hold for him as the situation in Syria evolves;
  • What’s it like to hold the space for people to open up about conflict and trauma;
  • When it makes sense to do that, and what kind of outcomes can be expected.