Available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book (also exam or desk copies for instructors) through our distributor NYU Press.

Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict is a two-volume work describing peacebuilding performances in regions beset by violence and internal conflicts. Volume I, Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence, emphasizes the role theatre and ritual play both in the midst and in the aftermath of direct violence, while Volume II, Building Just and Inclusive Communities, focuses on the transformative power of performance in regions fractured by "subtler" forms of structural violence and social exclusion.

Volume I: Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence focuses on the role theatre and ritual play both in the midst and in the aftermath of violence. The performances highlighted in this volume nourish and restore capacities for expression, communication, and transformative action, and creatively support communities in grappling with conflicting moral imperatives surrounding questions of justice, memory, resistance, and identity. The individual chapters, written by scholars, conflict resolution practitioners, and artists who work directly with the communities involved, offer vivid firsthand accounts and analyses of traditional and nontraditional performances in Serbia, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Israel, Argentina, Peru, India, Cambodia, Australia, and the United States.

Complemented by a website of related materials, a documentary film, Acting Together on the World Stage, that features clips and interviews with the curators and artists, and a toolkit, or "Tools for Continuing the Conversation," that is included with the documentary as a second disc, this book will inform and inspire socially engaged artists, cultural workers, peacebuilding scholars and practitioners, human rights activists, students of peace and justice studies, and whoever wishes to better understand conflict and the power of art to bring about social change.

The Acting Together project is born of a collaboration between Theatre Without Borders and the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University. The two volumes are edited by Cynthia E. Cohen, director of the aforementioned program and a leading figure in creative approaches to coexistence and reconciliation; Roberto Gutiérrez Varea, an award-winning director and associate professor at the University of San Francisco; and Polly O. Walker, director of Partners in Peace, an NGO based in Brisbane, Australia.


Cynthia E. Cohen is director of the Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University.

Roberto Gutiérrez Varea began his career in theater in his native Argentina. His research and creative work focuses on live performance as means of resistance and peacebuilding, in the context of social conflict and state violence.

Polly O. Walker is assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. She is director of Partners in Peacebuilding, a private consulting organization based in Brisbane, Australia, and lectures widely on intercultural conflict resolution.

Charles Mulekwa is an award-winning playwright, performer, composer, and producer.


Title Acting Together I: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict
Subtitle Resistance and Reconciliation in Regions of Violence
Title Part Volume 1
Afterword by Devanand Ramiah
Preface by Roberta Levitow
Foreword by John Paul Lederach
Publisher New Village Press
BISAC Subject Heading PER011000 PERFORMING ARTS / Theater
Audience 01 General / trade
Audience Students and educators in Performance Studies and Theatre, Conflict Transformation, and Peace and Justice Studies; Theatre artists, cultural workers, arts advocates, and arts administrators; Peacebuilding practitioners, grassroots organizers, diplomats, aid workers and human rights activists
Title First Published 01 July 2011
Subject Scheme Identifier Code      93 Thema subject category: ATD      93 Thema subject category: GTU
Includes Index; Bibliography; Appendices


Foreword: Acting Together on the World Stage
by John Paul Lederach

Preface: Lights in the Darkness
by Roberta Levitow



Introduction: Setting the Stage
by Cynthia E. Cohen, Roberto Gutiérrez Varea, and Polly O. Walker

SECTION I: Singing in the Dark Times: Peacebuilding Performance in the Midst of Direct Violence

Introduction to Section I
by Cynthia E. Cohen, Roberto Gutiérrez Varea, and Polly O. Walker

Chapter 1. Theatre as a Way of Creating Sense: Performance and Peacebuilding in the Region of the Former Yugoslavia
by Dijana Milošević

Chapter 2. Theatre, War, and Peace in Uganda
by Charles Mulekwa

Chapter 3. The Created Space: Peacebuilding and Performance in Sri Lanka
by Madhawa Palihapitiya

Chapter 4. Theatre, Resistance, and Peacebuilding in Palestine
by Abeer Musleh

Chapter 5. Weaving Dialogues and Confronting Harsh Realities: Engendering Social Change in Israel through Performance
by Aida Nasrallah and Lee Perlman

SECTION II: Holding Fast to the Feet of the Rising Condor: Peacebuilding Performance in the Aftermath of Mass Violence

Introduction to Section II
by Cynthia E. Cohen, Roberto Gutiérrez Varea, and Polly O. Walker

Chapter 6. Fire in the Memory: Theatre, Truth, and Justice in Argentina and Peru
by Roberto Gutiérrez Varea

Chapter 7. Hidden Fires: PeaceWorks' Invocations as Žižekian Response to the Gujarat Massacres of 2002
by Ruth Margraff

Chapter 8. Alive on Stage in Cambodia: Time, Histories, and Bodies
by Catherine Filloux

Chapter 9. Creating a New Story: Ritual, Ceremony, and Conflict Transformation between Indigenous and Settler Peoples
by Polly O. Walker

by Devanand Ramiah

Presentation of Volume II





Additional Materials

A website of related materials

This collection has an accompanying website with a host of extra materials.
A website of related materials


The recommendations of the Acting Together project are clear, grounded and convincing. The editors have demonstrated that performance can significantly contribute to the transformation of violent conflict, and can reach audiences that are inaccessible by other means. It also has the potential to support communities in mourning, those dealing with trauma and those celebrating resilience. Aesthetic excellence reinforces socio-political effectiveness if the integrity of the artistic process is respected. This comprises a strong argument for more peacebuilders to recognize and incorporate performance into their initiatives and for artists and peace-builders to explore their respective practices together. The recommendation of respecting the integrity of the artistic process will hopefully be a reminder for funders and NGOs to trust that the creative process of the performance will provide a transformative experience without the need for heavy-handed programmatic messages to be incorporated into the end-product.

- Serge Loode, Applied Theatre Research

Oct 3, 2011
Beginning this week, the Acting Together project is launching a global campaign for the feature-length documentary, Acting Together on the World Stage, a toolkit of videos and printed guides to aid educators, practitioners and policy-makers, and the first of two volumes of an anthology entitled Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict (New Village Press, 2011). In cinemas, bookstores, theatres, community centers and classrooms, educators, students, practitioners and policy-makers from fields related both to the arts and to peacebuilding will be engaging with the resources of the Acting Together project. In many locations around the world, the Acting Together documentary will be screened, and artists and peacebuilders will be gathering together to discuss possibilities for collaboration.

On the topic of peacebuilding through theatre, here is Cynthia Cohen.
- KadmusArts, http://kadmusarts.com/

We Also Suggest

Acting Together II: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict
Building Just and Inclusive Communities
Daniel Banks, Eugene van Erven, Kate Gardner, Mary Ann Hunter, John O'Neal, Jo Salas