Meet The (First) Cast

We began phase 3 (rehearsals) with an intensive 2-day workshop audition.
The first day was pretty relentless: 3 hours of physical theatre games and exercises with a group of 30 young men (and one young woman!) in the heat of the Bekaa valley tent.
On day 2 we showed up and our 30 actors had been cut down to 10. The beauty of self-selection!  It wasn’t easy to decide who should stay on. In the end, we chose 6 main cast and 2 alternates, as 2 of our main actors are scheduled to fly to Norway on June 6th (According to some friends and colleagues, this means we will probably lose them on the 6th. According to others, there’s a good chance we’ll have them for the whole tour. We don’t know what to believe so we just set up a plan A, B, C, and D, as we always do).


The (first) cast:


13-year old Dergham is our shining star.  On the first day of auditions we told him to go home because he was too young (the rest of the cast are 16-20).  He dug his heels down and said “no, I really want to perform”. We told him to leave a second time and he still said no.  We figured, if he wants it that bad, let him at least try. And of course he was a total star.


Dergham’s sister Hanan is a force too, hers is a quiet strength. We know that she must be fielding a lot of questions from the other girls in her community (she tells us as much) for being the only girl to perform in a group of teenage guys. She tells us that when she’s hassled she replies, “I have a right to be here too”. When reporters (mostly women) pop in to record videos or take pictures, the boys all blush and giggle. But Hanan sits next to the reporters and asks quietly, confidently, “would you like to interview me?” Of course they would.


Ahmed is the charismatic leader. Older than the other lads, he has the confidence, charm, and physical presence to hold a room, and—more importantly—wrangle a crowd, a skill we know we’ll be relying on when we step out of the safety of the rehearsal room into the unpredictability of the streets.


Sayyed is another leader, an unexpected one. Small, with boxy glasses and a tufty moustache, he doesn’t look like the kind of guy who would be able to hold a crowd, but wow! Can he! He commits fully to his characters and has a grounded way of communicating that oozes capability. When we ask which of the actors will be able to be “even headed” enough to be the facilitator of a heated debate, all of the cast unanimously nod towards Sayyed.


Ali is the lovable troublemaker. He caught our attention when he swaggered into the first rehearsal and cheekily stole puffs of a cigarette while we pointed him out the door shouting Barra Barra! Once we began scripting and sat down with text a new side emerged, he led the group through writes and rewrites, his way with words is brilliant.


Ali’s brother Aboudi is the cheerful worker, no conflict with anyone or anything. We almost missed him in the audition because he’s like water–no tactics, no tension, no drama. Just good, solid presence.


Yousuf is a gentle giant. Constantly smiling, always relaxed, the first to volunteer to play the silly roles the others shy away from. He is also a natural director, moulding and shaping cast members into a tableau of the dragon, making the most coherent points about what is and what isn’t theatrical. He is a great and positive spirit to have in the room.


Mohammed is the philosopher. Given a note, he will mull it over for several seconds while the others are springing into action. On the second audition day he impressed us with his gentle, serious tone. He is always helping the other cast members, it is in his nature to be helpful.

Every day we pull up in our little red car to see these 8 already ready and waiting with massive smiles. We were gutted when we realised there was absolutely no way to get around the situation of not being able to tour with them (getting through checkpoints is a problem for most people here), so instead of re-casting we just decided to get a second cast for the Beirut shows. Twice the rehearsals, twice the fun!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Seven Weeks in The Caravan سبعة أسابيع بالكرفانة

Seven weeks have passed since the start of our stories’ collection phase.
We have worked with tens of Syrian refugees in the Bekaa valley, including men, women, and children.
Stories have been collected and recorded.
Laughs have been shared and tears have been shed.
The stories have gathered more than 2500 video views on our YouTube channel and more than 20,000 on our Facebook page.
Six stories have been shared till now. And many more to come.
We’re thrilled that the stories were featured on a popular show on a Lebanese TV station LBC. A strong step to make the stories heard and get the voices across. ( maybe Sara can find a better way to put it. without the word Strong)
Two of the ladies who had their stories recorded, shared their stories again on live TV and talked about their situation.
Click on the video below to watch the interview with The Caravan’s artistic director Sabine Choucair.
The reception of the stories was expected, as some were supportive, while others were not. A glimpse of the replies are shared below in the screenshots.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Follow us on twitter @caravanlb

مرّت سبع أسابيع منذ بدء مرحلة تجميع القصص. عملنا مع عشرات اللاجئين السوريين في سهل البقاع، ومنهم رجال، نساء وأطفال

جمعنا وسجّلنا القصص

تشاركنا الضحكات وذرفنا الدّموع

 أكثر من ٢٥٠٠ شخص شاهد القصص على موقع يوتيوب، وأكثر من ٢٠٠٠٠ شخص تابع مقاطع الفيديو على موقع فايسبوك

نشرنا ستة قصص حتى الآن، وهناك المزيد من القصص التي ستُنشر قريباً

فرحنا كثيراً لأنّه تمّ نشر القصص في برنامج معروف على محطة الـ أل بي سي اللبنانية. وكانت هذه خطوة مهمة من أجل إيصال أصوات اللاجئين وقصصهم. سيدتان من اللواتي سجّلنا قصصهنّ سردتا قصصهما مجدداً في البرنامج وتحدثتا عن أوضاعهما الحالية

إضغط على رابط الفيديو في الأسفل لمشاهدة مقابلة سابين شقير، المديرة الفنية لمشروع الكرفانة

كانت ردّات الفعل تجاه القصص كما كان متوقعاً، فالبعض منها كان مشجعاً والبعض الآخر لم يكن كذلك. هذه لمحة عن التعلقات.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

@caravanlb تابعونا على تويتر

قصصهم الشخصية، بأصواتهم

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 6.08.36 PM

بعد بضع أسابيع من ورشات العمل وأيام من التسجيل، بإمكاننا أن نقول أن التجربة حتى الآن منشطة ومحيّرة في آنٍ معاً. التّفاعلات اليومية، مشاركة القصص، الثّقة، الإبتسامات والدموع… كل هذا قد جعلنا متأكدين من قيمة المشروع الذي يخلق المساحة للإستماع  والمشاركة بتلك القصص. العنوان الذي إخترناه بشكل عفوي “والعالم يسمع” هو الشعار للمساحة التي خلقناها. يرغب المشاركون من العالم كله أن يسمع قصصهم. من خلال التسجيل والعرض وتوصيل الصوت، يصبح دورنا فجأةً أكثر من مجرّد وظيفة رقميّة أو ميكانيكية. هو تحدٍّ للإبداع، يتطلّب الإصغاء لما هو أبعد من مجرّد كلمات، والتأكيد على المعاني المبطّنة التي لا بد من مشاركتها فوراً. من أجل مشاركة قصة شخص ما، عليك أولاً أن تفهم/تفهمي أهميتها بالنسبة له/لها. ما هي الرسالة الأساسيّة من القصة؟ ما الذي يريدون قوله للعالم؟ قد يتحدّث أحدهم عن بيع بقرة العائلة، مما قد يعني الهزيمة  بلنسبة له/ لها، أو قد يعني الولادة من جديد. ليست القصص عبارة عن مجموعة من الحقائق أو الكلمات
عليك أن تفهم/ي سارد/ة الرواية بهدف فهم القصة. عليك فهم مساحتهم الدّاخلية المميزة، وكيفية تأثرها بكل فعل أو حادثة

 نعلم أنّ العالم يصغي. ولكن الصحافيون، والسياسيون والفنّانون وحتى الأشخاص الذين نقابلهم في المخيمات يستخدمون الأجزاء الأقوى والأكثر تأثيراً، بهدف فهم تلك القصص وتوصيلها. كيف ندرّب أنفسنا على الإصغاء لحياة جديدة، لمعانٍ جديدة، لرسائل الجديدة، لمفاهيم جديدة، في هذا الوابل من اللغة؟

“The Caravan” is a project that puts Syrian refugee voices from the Bekaa valley at the heart of a street theatre performance, literally, through the use of recorded storytelling audio. It is a project by Beirut DC, Sawa for Development and Aid, Clown Me In, Theatre Témoin co-funded by the European Union in Lebanon, Prince Claus Fund, UNICEF Lebanon, Goethe – Institut Libanon 
The Caravan project is co-funded by the European Union within the framework of the regional program Med Culture
#‎TheCaravan‬ ‪#‎theworldislistening‬ 
Follow us on Facebook:

Their Story in Their Own Voice

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 6.08.36 PM

After few weeks of workshops and days of recordings, we can say that so far, the experience has been energizing and confusing all at the same time. The daily interactions, sharing of stories, trust, laughter, tears…all of this has made us certain of the value of a project that creates these spaces for things to be spoken and shared. And the tagline that we chose, almost impulsively, “The World is Listening”, is the banner under which this space has been created. Our participants want the whole world to hear their stories.  Suddenly our role, as recorders and presenters, as the megaphone, becomes more than a simple digital or mechanical task. It is a creative challenge, one of listening to the language beneath the words, to empathizing with the hidden meaning which must so urgently be shared. To share someone’s story, you must first understand why it is so urgent to them.  What is the profound message underneath it?  What do they want the world to hear?  One person may talk of selling the family cow, and for them this could mean defeat, or it could mean rebirth. The facts alone do not make a story, and words alone do not carry a message. To understand a story you must understand the storyteller.  You must understand their deeply unique inner landscape, and the way in which each action, each event, affects it.

We know that the world does listen. However, journalists, politicians, artists, and even the people we interview in the camps, use the most powerful and gripping parts of the stories, in an attempt to understand and communicate them. How do we re-train ourselves to listen for new life, new meaning, new messages, and new understandings in this barrage of language?

Keep listening. Here are our first stories

“The Caravan” is a project that puts Syrian refugee voices from the Bekaa valley at the heart of a street theatre performance, literally, through the use of recorded storytelling audio. It is a project by Beirut DC, Sawa for Development and Aid, Clown Me In, Theatre Témoin co-funded by the European Union in Lebanon, Prince Claus Fund, UNICEF Lebanon, Goethe – Institut Libanon 
The Caravan project is co-funded by the European Union within the framework of the regional program Med Culture
#‎TheCaravan‬ ‪#‎theworldislistening‬ 
Follow us on Facebook:

Phase Two: Recording


أطلقنا الأسبوع الفائت المرحلة الثانية من مشروع الكرفانة، وهو مشروع يتمحور حول سرد الحكايات ويفسح المجال لللاجئين بهدف مشاركة قصصهم التي يودون للعالم أن يسمعها.  تمضي إثنتان من فنّانينا من كلاون مي إن وبيروت دي سي، سابين شقير وفرح قاسم، 40 يوماً في البقاع الغربي. حتى اليوم، عمل الفريق مع 70 إمرأة (بين عمر ال20 وال85) و40 رجل (بين عمر ال30 وال65) من مختلف المخيمات التي تديرها جمعية سوا للتنمية والإغاثة. نظّم الفريق ورشات عمل تتمحور حول سرد الحكايات وخلق مساحة مفتوحة حيث تحدّث المشاركين عن حاجاتهم، أفكارهم، وخبراتهم المتعلّقة بالإندماج في المجتمع اللبناني.

حتى الآن، سجّل الفريق عشر قصص ويعمل حالياً على منتجتها. إنها قصص عن الحب، الموت، التمييز، الذل، والذكريات السعيدة. غداً تذهب سابين وفرح للعمل مع مجموعة جديدة تتألف من 20 سيدة لاجئة مقيمة في نفس المبنى في عاليه. من المهم بالنسبة لنا أن نسمع أكبر عدد من الأصوات ممكن.

إختبار حماس المشاركين هو أمر رائع بالفعل، إضافة إلى القوة البسيطة للكلام ولمشاركة الأمور الهامة والجوهريّة عن النفس، ومتعة الإصغاء ومشاركة التفاصيل الشخصية مع بعضنا البعض. تأثّرت سابين كثيراً عندما قبِل الرجال بالتواجد مع فنانة في مجال سرد الحكايات بمفردها وبالكلام عن قصصهم الشخصية، وبالبكاء والضحك من دون أي تردد أو تحفّظ.

ستُقام الورشة التالية مع مجموعة من المراهقين والأطفال. تابعونا لمعرفة المزيد! سننشر المزيد من الأخبار قريباً جداً


Last week, we launched the second phase of The Caravan project, a storytelling project allowing refugees to share the stories that they would like the world to hear. Two of our artists from Clown Me In and Beirut DC, Sabine Choucair & Farah Kassem, are currently spending 40 days in West Beqaa. So far, they’ve worked with 70 women (ages 20 to 85) and 40 men (ages 30 to 65) from four different camps that are managed by Sawa for Development and Aid. They conducted storytelling workshops and created an open space in which participants spoke about their needs, thoughts and experiences related to integration into Lebanese society.

So far, the pair has recorded ten stories and is in the process of editing them. These are stories about love, death, discrimination, humiliation, and happy memories. Tomorrow, Sabine and Farah will be working with a new group of 20 refugee women living in one building in Aley.  It is important to us that we get as many voices heard as we can.

It is incredible to experience the participants’ excitement, and see the simple power of articulating and sharing what is important, defining, about the self–the joy of hearing and sharing with each other these personal details. Sabine was very touched to see that the men accepted to sit with a female storytelling artist by herself and to talk about personal stories, to cry and laugh without any hesitation or reservation.

The next workshops will be conducted with teens and children. Stay tuned! We will be sharing more news as we go along!


The Caravan Project

“The Caravan” is a project that puts Syrian refugee voices from the Bekaa valley at the heart of a street theatre performance, literally, through the use of recorded storytelling audio. Our aim is to construct and tour a participatory street performance built collaboratively by professional theatre makers and non-professionals refugee artists which incorporates recorded interviews conducted with Syrian refugees populations living in Lebanon.

The Caravan is implemented by Beirut DC in partnership with Sawa For Development and Aid, Clown Me In and Theatre Temoin funded by Drama Diversity and Development project, (co-funded by the EU as part of the Med Culture program and by the Prince Claus Fund), UNICEF and Goethe Institute.

الكرفانة هو مشروع يجمع بين مسرح الشارع والقصص المسجّلة صوتياً بهدف تسليط الضوء على حكايات اللاجئيين السوريّين الموجودين في منطقة البقاع. ستتعاون مجموعة من المسرحيّين المحترفين مع مجموعة من اللاجئين لخلق مسرحية شارع تفاعلية تضمّ بعض المقابلات المسجّلة مع لاجئين سوريّين مقيمين في لبنان

تُنفّذ جمعية بيروت دي سي مشروع الكرفانة بالإشتراك مع جمعية سوا للتنمية والإغاثة، كلاون مي إن ومسرح تيموا، بتمويل من قبل مشروع الدراما، التنوّع والتنمية، (مشروع مموّل بالإشتراك مع الإتحاد الأوروبي كجزء من برنامج ثقافة ميد وصندوق الأمير كلاوس)، يونيسف ومعهد غوته