Home Institution

University of Washington-Seattle

Publication Date

Spring 2013

Program Name

Ireland: Transformation of Social and Political Conflict


For a period of one month I researched three distinct categories of political theatre: Theatre of Witness, Theatre of the Oppressed and more traditional theatre –wherein the audience and performers are clearly defined and separated. I was interested in getting an in-depth look at various forms of theatre and their potential effects on both producers and consumers of the art form. To conduct my research I interviewed eight individuals involved in the theatric world, participated in a theatre workshop, studied a variety of theatric literature and attended three politically charged theatre productions. I discovered a litany of things from my diverse subjects. Many themes emerged from my research but I chose to focus on three: personal effects of theatre, interpersonal effects of theatre and societal effects of theatre. Within those three categories my research fell into more subcategories. Intrapersonal effects included empowerment and catharsis; interpersonal effects included relationship building, identity dynamism and the dangers of empathy; societal effects included activism and critique. My findings were certainly not empirical in that they were all derived from the perspectives of individuals intimately tied to the theatric world. But nonetheless I discovered strands of what the apparent impact of theatre can be: empowering, cathartic, relationship building, awareness raising, society critiquing and future imagining, among others. My findings mean that there is, at the very least, a perceived impact in political theatre and that, potentially, theatre can be lifechanging for individuals on both sides of the curtain.


Arts and Humanities | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Theatre and Performance Studies