Clowning Around in Lebanon to highlight the Rights of the Child

Beirut-based Clown Me In’s Van 12 project is taking street theatre to the heart of some of the most critically deprived and socially challenged of the country’s communities.

UNICEF
Kids witnessing performance in autoshop
Stephen Gerard Kelly

23 January 2019

Van 12 takes to the road through Lebanon

Beirut-based Clown Me In’s Van 12 project is taking street theatre to the heart of some of the most critically deprived and socially challenged of the country’s communities.

Funded by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM) and in partnership with UNICEF Lebanon, the troupe of Lebanese and Syrian actors are dramatizing 12 important aspects of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child just where they’re needed most.

 

Performance on makeshift stage.
Stephen Gerard Kelly
In a series of 24 performances throughout Lebanon, using humour and drama Van 12 tackles many of the serious issues and challenges children on the margins of society continue to face on a daily basis.

“I’ve never seen a show like this before. Grown-ups, dressed-up and talking about a life like mine. They talked about serious things, but in a fun way. And they came to my street to do it”.

Woman playing with children in autoshop.
Stephen Gerard Kelly
As each show begins, an initially quiet audience soon becomes enthralled by the clowns’ physical and playful actions and deeply engaged in this uniquely frenetic and educational experience.

“This is the first time my children have seen a live show like this. I’ve always tried to make sure my daughter understands the way people must respect her, and tonight she’s heard actors talk about the same things in life that I’ve discussed with her”.

Man fixing roof of car.
Stephen Gerard Kelly
Areas covered during the show’s 24 performances include increasing children’s knowledge and rights concerning their health and vaccinations.

“Sometimes it’s not easy to teach children or to make us listen. Having Van 12 here has been a great way to share direct information, and it’s been a fun way to learn!”

Each performance highlights the daily struggles as well as the future hopes and dreams of children while illustrating 12 aspects of the UN Convention, including the right to education, healthcare, safety and child labour.

“It was good to see children getting involved and demonstrating so much knowledge about their rights. But there’s still a lot of child rights awareness to be given, particularly in a neighbourhood like ours”.

Areas covered during the show’s 24 performances include increasing children’s knowledge and rights concerning their health and vaccinations.

“As well as topics that are regularly discussed, it was also good to see the actors highlighting the importance of resolving disagreements without resorting to a fight – and showing the children how to achieve this”