Refugees' stories on stage: investigating the possibilities and risks of theatrical practices with refugees

Claudia Domenici

Studenteropgave: Speciale


This paper will discuss the role of theatre within the refugees’ crisis and tackle the ability of theatre
to improve and support refugees’ settlement with group work, storytelling and writing sessions.
By contrast, theatre practices with and for refugees can present some difficulties and ethical
dilemmas due to emotional triggers leading to traumatic memories.
The first part of the thesis proposes a general overview of Applied theatre with the theoretical
framework related to postcolonial studies, and, in particular, subaltern theory. This thesis also
explores how language and power dynamics can be found in theatrical work and how they reflect
a certain perception and image of a refugee within western contexts.
The second part is dedicated to the analysis of four interviews that I conducted in London and
Copenhagen during the research period. I had the chance to dialogue with two experienced theatremakers,
a researcher and dramaturg, and a participant of a refugee project. In this paper, I mainly
discussed common themes that emerged from the interviews and I shared doubts regarding the
benefit, the risks and the positive impacts of theatre on refugees.
The thesis concludes that theatre work and performative actions can offer a diverse instrument for
decolonizing cultural spaces, fighting stereotypes and changing the fixed narrative of refugees and
migrants. However, due to the nature of my research, the doubts that I initially posed to myself
and the informants are still unsolved. The questions, in fact, concern unexpected human behavior
and step into the artistic arena where theoretical assumptions and structures are often rejected.
During my research, I examined examples and professional experiences, in other words, concrete
elements, in order to tackle a huge topic and multilayered subject. My thesis is driven by the main
question about the meaning of making theatre and its possibilities applied to special contexts and
cross-cultural creative spaces.
Keywords: refugee theatre, applied theatre, subaltern, contact zones, decolonization, trauma

UddannelserKultur- og Sprogmødestudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Antal sider55
VejledereLars Jensen