The play is entitled "Shahrazad a Baabda", from the name of the Arabian Nights' female narrator. In this tale there is no room for the sweet oriental adventures and luxuries dreamt by many westerners. The stories told by about twenty of these actress-detainees in 100 minutes of monologues, dialogues and traditional dances open the door on violence which has been suffered before being committed, violence which has come from unjust parents or brutal husbands. The stories are acted in a large squalid room which serves as a recreational area, where water drips from the encrusted ceiling, from which hangs a tricycle, a little girl's dress and other objects belonging to a denied childhood.
"For them it's as if they can finally breathe", says Zeina Daccache, who trained as a drama-therapist in the United States and then with Armando Punzo, director of the "Compagnia della Fortezza" theatre company in the prison in Volterra. On her return to Lebanon the director founded Catharsis, the first centre for drama-therapy in Lebanon and in the Middle East, which aims to effectively collaborate with the transformation of prisons into a place of rehabilitation, offering the prisoners the chance to express themselves and reach a higher level of consciousness. Not an easy task in such overcrowded places as is the case in Baabda and also the male prison of Rumieh, where Daccache produced her first play in 2009 titled "12 angry Lebanese", an adaptation of "12 angry men" by Reginald Rose.
The film made from the making of "12 angry Lebanese" brought Daccache the award for best documentary at the Cinema festival in Dubai. It was perhaps an omen for this year's victory of "Cesare deve morire", the documentary film by the Taviani brothers about the prisoners inside the roman jail of Rebibbia putting on a play.
Nevertheless, the innovative factor which this work begun in July 2011 with female prisoners has, is that the play itself is written by the actresses themselves and in this way gives them the voice to speak their words against the patriarchal society and the situation within the jails. To this end, just as the male prison project had received funding from the EU and Cooperazione Italiana, so has this initiative been supported by DROSOS, a Swiss foundation already present in Lebanon with various projects aiding women who have been victims of violence.