This article explores the ways in which two recent plays by the Tinderbox Theatre Company in Belfast – Jimmy McAleavey's The Sign of the Whale and David Ireland's Everything Between Us – engage with current political debates in Northern Ireland about how to deal with the ‘legacy of the past’. Both plays dramatise the uneasy tension between the demands for remembrance and reconciliation. I suggest that they give rise to a ‘transformative aesthetics’ that proposes an un-remembering of the past to make way for a transformative re-remembering for the future. This process, however, does not imply an easy resolution or transcendence of the antagonisms, debates, and traumatic memories. Instead, it suggests an intense and complicated engagement that sits in vexed opposition to the restorative conception of reconciliation and both a politics and a political context of ameliorative forgetting that dominates the Northern Irish Peace Process.
- Northern Ireland; Theatre; Reconciliation; Memory