Shoulder to Shoulder: the co-existence of truths in the 'Theatre of Witness'

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


‘Theatre of Witness’ is a form of performance in which “the true stories of those who have been marginalised, forgotten or hurt by society are woven into collaborative theatre productions and are performed by the people themselves in spoken word, movement, music and visual imagery”. Unlike Augusto Boal and Jonathan Fox who have respectively laid down clear protocols of practice for the Theatre of the Oppressed and Playback Theatre, the founder of the Theatre of Witness, the American theatre artist Teya Sepinuck, has been cautious about describing it as a genre or a system. Her practice with groups as diverse as prisoners and their families, asylum seekers and runaway girls in Poland, has consistently found new forms to serve the stories of each set of witnesses and has emerged organically over nearly three decades, consistently being inflected and adapted to the needs of each discrete context. In the case of her work in Northern Ireland, the context was especially challenging, founded as it was on the shifting sands of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. This article will reflect on the trilogy of ‘Theatre of Witness’ productions conceived and directed by Teya Sepinuck specifically in response to the Northern Ireland Troubles at the Playhouse in ʼDerry between 2009 and 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPost Celtic Ireland
Subtitle of host publicationExploring New Cultural Spaces
EditorsEstelle Epinoux, Frank Healy
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)1443897639
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Theatre of Witness
  • The Method of Metaphor
  • Applied Drama
  • Northerh Ireland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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