Theatre for Development in the slums of Cairo: The impact on a disempowered community | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2049-3010
  • E-ISSN: 2049-3029



In Mansheyet Nasser, one of the world’s biggest slums located on the outskirts of Cairo, a modest theatre project formed to engage children and youth of the garbagepicking trade, El-Zabaleen, in a process of celebrating their livelihood. The theatre work was able to challenge the stigma associated with being a Zabaleen, and fostered a renewed sense of self-worth in the young participants. When the project was discontinued in vague circumstances, the author set out to better understand the ethical implications of working with impoverished and marginalized communities. This article describes the history of El-Zabaleen and of Theatre for Development in the slums of Cairo, as well as the context and process of the theatre work. It points to some measures that might be taken in order for funding bodies, facilitators and participants to fully appreciate the impact of this work on a community’s hope for sustainability, self-development and social change.


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