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The Long Road to Healing: From the TRC to TfD.

Marlin-Curiel, Stephanie
June 4, 2015

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.


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