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Community-Led Theatre

LESBOS, the play, 

is a community-restorative, participatory play written by UNESCO Affiliate Artist, Effie Samara in 2015 as the first wave of Syrian war refugees began to arrive onto the island of Lesbos in the Eastern Aegean. Its reconciliatory art synthesises fragile social and civic relationships within communities in conflict.

LESBOS, the island inside the Community

We are working with selected community groups, encouraging their responses, input and participation. At the end of the process, we have a cast of chorus for group scenes who will represent the CITIZENS' CHORUS. The Chorus will be performed either in organisations' care setting or professional theatre, having worked directly with our group of professional Playwright, Director and Actors.


Individuals can choose to perform or work backstage. Each organisation's group of individuals will finish the day with pride, achievement, and aspiration!


Our Scottish Partner in delivering LESBOS is the STAR Project​. STAR is an award-winning community development organisation which has been creating community-centred projects for over 20 years. Their person-centred approach centres around community resilience, reconnection and transformation. STAR's processes are creative and bottom-up, giving precedence to experience. personal narrative and, at times, challenging personal situations. Karen Herbison has worked with STAR as creative facilitator during the Covid pandemic. 

LESBOS will begin the creative and participatory process in London in the spring of 2024 and later in Glasgow. It will culminate in Lesbos, Greece (dates TBC)


(Processing) Theatre

LESBOS works with individuals and groups in mental health settings employing a variety of media: music, rhythm, kinaesthetic, poetry and body language towards the creation of a Chorus tailored to suit each distinct performance event. Contoured by the storyline of the play, each participant is brought into the fold of the theatrical process without any pressure or expectation to perform in the piece, their words through discussion and observation of participants’ emotional/body language anxieties

The Director, Karen Herbison works with people on the basic and simple principle of person-centred practice. Her accumulated skills and experience means that she can step-change even mid-activity in response to developing reactions and/or need.

Participants spend time together gelling as a supportive group who will encourage, support and celebrate each other’s contributions and creativity. Having had 25years experience in social care, Karen, as a creative in participatory projects, has a wealth of experience which she brings to any creative project she works on.

With the points of choice and respect being stressed, participants will be secure in the

knowledge that there is no pressure to perform in the play. That workshop participation alone, is welcomed. However, approaches and the nurturing nature of the day will (and has, in every previous situation) boosted people with a high sense of empowerment, confidence and aspiration which lasts well beyond any workshop and/or performance.


Project Leaders


Effie Samara is a writer, film maker and doctoral researcher at Glasgow University. She studied Law

at Cambridge University and obtained an M.F.A. in Writing from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama before completing her PhD at the University of Glasgow. Her work focuses on politico-philosophical debate, Human Rights, women’s rights and post-critical approaches in exilic dramaturgy. Her academic research under Professor Alison Phipps looks into exilic consciousness and radical reimaginings of citizenship towards a political dramaturgy through culture and creativity.

Her film work has been awarded the Chancellor’s Fund and featured as part of the Being Human

Festival in collaboration with the British Academy. 

For her work in academia and theatre, Effie has been awarded the Collaborative Research Award, the

Tom McGrath Trust Award and the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland Award. She has received grants

from Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and the European Cultural Foundation ’s Democracy Needs Imagination Award and the Chancellor’s Fund Award.

In 2022 Effie was appointed Principal Investigator for the 

Creative Europe large fund Pariahs coordinating artistic research across four countries and diverse artistic, social and dramaturgical disciplines. 

Effie Samara is UNESCO Affiliate Artist under the UNESCO Chair at the University of Glasgow. 


Karen works full-time as Creative Facilitator, Writer, Director, Actor and Producer of H-arts. Community work includes design and facilitation of large scale, ‘creation to performance’, projects,

workshops, training, conference and event pieces, and character appearances. Her Creative Scotland funded project – We’re Still Here - with lockdown shielders living in Renfrewshire. Project

Anthologies are now held in Renfrewshire’s Heritage Library. WSH and the legacy project, “Poetic Pathways” is triple-award-winning (two as part of a wider programme by the S.H team).

Karen brings the strong background of a 25year career in social care (direct practice and as an SVQ Assessor/Verifier and trainer). During that time, she worked with young children (community support, projects & nurseries) and with adults who have learning disabilities. In all her experiences, Karen was naturally drawn to using performance and general creativity. As such she brings a long and solid wealth of experience, pretty unique in her field to her participatory arts practice and is highly respected and sought after in Renfrewshire and far beyond.

Karen has directed multiple productions including ’Singin’ In The Rain’ and ‘Hello Dolly’ for productions in the Kings Theatre, Glasgow, her own “Say You Love Me”, at Paisley’s Town Hall.  Her own theatre plays are known for gritty drama and comedy, including “Say You Love Me” for Edinburgh Fringe and Off (off)-Broadway.

With Oak Tree books and Paisley Illustrator, Kevin Cantwell, Karen has published her debut children’s picture book to support readers who are overcoming the challenges dyslexia, encourage participation and story-making. 

Karen's work includes:

H-arts –

Hear my Voice (community engagement )

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