Theatre of Witness is a model of performance developed by Teya Sepinuck in 1986 that gives voice to those whose stories have not been heard in society. The true, life stories, of people from diverse backgrounds are performed by people themselves, so that audiences can collectively bear witness to issues of suffering, redemption and social justice. Theatre of Witness productions performed in spoken word, music, movement and cinematic imagery, put a face and heart to societal issues of suffering, and celebrate the power of the human spirit to grow and transform.
Teya Sepinuck has been creating Theatre of Witness productions in the United States and Poland. Performers have included: refugees, immigrants, survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse, ex-combatants, members of the security forces, teenage runaways, prisoners and their families, people living in poverty or without homes, families of murder victims, women in transition, people in recovery and survivors of war.
Some recent Theatre of Witness programmes have brought survivors of violence together with perpetrators and witnesses to explore issues of accountability, healing, guilt, restorative justice, forgiveness and redemption. The finished productions performed by the people themselves in prisons, theatres, schools, community centres and at conferences, create safe public forums for audiences to move beyond entrenched positions and ideologies towards understanding and healing.
THEATRE OF WITNESS AT THE PLAYHOUSE THEATRE
Since 2009, the Playhouse Theatre of Witness Programme has been an innovative and pioneering initiative developed in partnership with Holywell Trust. Our latest project is carrying forth from the seeds that we planted with our first three productions:
‘Sanctuary’ illuminates the stories of those in exile, those seeking safe haven, and those who have created oases of peace and healing in Northern Ireland. The performers include refugee and asylum seekers and providers, as well as those who seek or offer refuge following violence, mental health issues, forced exile, poverty and/or sectarianism. ‘Sanctuary’ also highlights moments of ordinary and humble peace building. To find out more click here.
The Theatre of Witness Programme is offering a mentoring program which runs between January – June 2014. The project offers two mentees, Alessia Cartoni and Thomas Spiers, the opportunity to create an original Theatre of Witness production, supervised by Teya and subsidized by the Playhouse Theatre of Witness Programme. Their performances will be presented in late Spring 2014.
Built on the success of these first two productions, 2012’s Theatre of Witness Programme has resulted in the creation and tour of ‘Release’ with men who are coming to terms with the legacy of their past in Northern Ireland. Performed by a former prison governor, a former RUC detective, a former British soldier, two ex-prisoners and a man who had been blown up in a car bomb as a child, the production toured through November 2012 Copies of the Release Documentary are available from the Playhouse, if you or a group are interested in arranging a screening please contact Coordinator Emma Stuart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view reflections from “We Carried Your Secrets” please click here
I Once Knew a Girl (2010)
2010’s production “I Once Knew a Girl” brought the unheard stories of women affected by the Troubles to the public. Filmmaker Margo Harkin produced a documentary film “The Far Side of Revenge’ about the making of the production. The film has premiered at the Dublin, Belfast and now Foyle Film Festival and will be broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland in 2013.
To view reflections from “I Once Knew a Girl” please click here
We Carried Your Secrets (2009)
In 2009 we produced “We Carried Your Secrets” with fathers who had been on the front lines during the Troubles, and those in the next generation living with its legacy. The production toured for 14 performances to great acclaim. A documentary DVD of the same title by Declan Keeney is available.