Source: (2002) Theatre Research International. 27(3): 275-288.

The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission has inspired several pieces of theatre that emphasize the powerful aesthetics of testimony and the challenges of an ethical response. While many of these are experimental plays with high production values and engage with élite liberal audiences on a metaphoric level, the theatrical space remains a comment upon, but does not merge with, everyday reality. The focus here is on three plays in which audiences are not watching an `other' but are watching themselves. They are brought on a journey of healing as a community. That Spirit by Mina Nawe, Thetha Ngikhulume (`Speak so that I may speak' ) by Bongani Linda and The Victory Sonqoba Theatre Company and The Story I am About to Tell by Khulumani Support Group belong to the category of Theatre for Development (TfD). TfD most often stages intellectual debates on social and political issues affecting a particular, usually geographically defined, community. However, rather than exploring the socio-political aspects of the TRC, these plays focus on the deep emotional trauma that remains with survivors as the TRC goes about `healing the nation'. This article draws on the theories of social change associated with TfD, Augusto Boal's theories of theatre as therapy, psychologists' theories of post-conflict recovery, and, theories of restorative justice to evaluate the healing potential of both the TRC and TfD. Author's abstract.