The Blue House: An analysis of the production of Johar Up in the Air! | Intellect Skip to content
Drama Therapy with Incarcerated, Criminalized and Justice-Impacted Populations
  • ISSN: 2054-7668
  • E-ISSN: 2054-7676


This article provides an analysis of a drama therapy process carried out during 2012‐17 with a group of imprisoned persons labelled by the Lebanese Penal Code as ‘insane, mad, or possessed’, some of whom were housed in the notorious Blue Building in Roumieh Prison in Beirut, Lebanon. The author argues for the use of a hybrid approach to drama therapy inside prisons that simultaneously includes forms of self-advocacy, legislative theatre and self-revelatory modes in order to successfully hold up a mirror to Lebanese society, implicating its anachronistic legal codes in the oppression that often leads to chaos and madness. In the course of collaborating on their artistic journey, two segregated populations of participants, one identified by the Lebanese Penal Code as ‘insane’ and the other as ‘regular’, collaborated and revealed stories of domestic violence, traumatic childhoods, social dysfunctions, the lingering impact of an earlier civil war and the deprivation of legal and human rights. Standing up before numerous audiences, including high officials of the government, they dared not only to reflect on their own lives but also to heal their own and their community’s wounds.


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