Stages of Violence Research Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Sch of Theatre, Perform & Cult Poli Stud


The 'Stages of Violence' Research Network offers a timely exploration of the relationships between performance and violence. It will run over a two-year period and bring together academics and practitioners who are interested in performance that relates to contexts and legacies of violence in Kenya, Rwanda and Northern Ireland. All three countries have shared histories of colonial violence and, more recently, of the political instrumentalization of religious and/or ethnic identities which have led to violence.

More specifically, the network will consider how performance relates to acts of collective violence, defined as the participation in, and/or formation of, groups who engage in violence against others for economic, political or social gain. We will ask how performance and performance makers represent, challenge, and/or sustain violence? This question will be explored through three key events, and a final online symposium. First, we will consider how performance is being used to prevent violence through an event in Kenya, where violence around presidential elections has led to preventative work taking place. We will draw on the expertise of Amani People's Theatre and their use of Theatre of the Oppressed approaches to prevent participation in conflict and violence. Second, an event in Northern Ireland will consider how performance has addressed, and continues to engage with, violence. Here, we will engage with the expertise of Derry Playhouse, which runs innovative arts and peace projects. Third, we will travel to Rwanda to examine how performance is part of commemorating acts of violence, marking (and at times masking) histories and narratives of violence. Participants will attend the Ubumuntu Arts Festival - organized by Hope Azeda (Mashirika Arts). Finally, the online symposium will move beyond preventing, addressing and commemorating violence, asking what happens next? The continual representation of particular contexts as violent, or marked by legacies of violence, may further entrench conflict and prevent the transition towards new, alternative, futures. The event will draw on the findings of the three previous workshops.

The network will comprise six core participants, some of whom are representatives from the organisations mentioned above. Two core participants have been recruited from each country, and they will take responsibility for some of the planning and implementation of network events, including the recruitment of ten further participants in each country, who will attend the events happening in their respective contexts. The findings of the research network will contribute towards academic understandings and discourses of performance and violence but also to the approaches and knowledges of the theatre and performance practitioners who are doing this work, on the ground. The activities will result in a co-edited book and we aspire to create new opportunities for sustained partnerships beyond the network.


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Description Through events in Kenya, Northern Ireland and Rwanda we discovered some of the varied ways in which arts can be used in contexts of violence. Through engaging with projects such as 'Theatre of Witness' we have been able to consider how individuals can be brought together, across the divides of conflict, to create art together and how, in turn, this can aid processes of reconcilliation and forgiveness. In Kenya we found that much of the work taking place regarding peacebuilding utilises participatory forms such as Theatre of the oppressed and Magnet Theatre. In Rwanda, most arts-based activities reflecting on violence engage with legacies of genocide against the Tutsi, and young people in particular are creating art to think about the impacts this continues to have on them. Through the project, the need and desire to continue to engage in transnational collaboration was highlighted.
Exploitation Route At this moment in time we are preparing a publication to engage with this question. We are also considering other funding opportunities to explore this further.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy

Creative Economy




Museums and Collections

Description Arts Impact Award
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Funding ID AHIF.2.IF.011 
Organisation University of Warwick 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2023 
End 04/2023
Description Maximising our Impact in Kenya part 2
Amount £1,300 (GBP)
Funding ID AHIF.2.IF.014 
Organisation University of Warwick 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2023 
End 04/2023
Description Sharing artistic approaches to theatre and conflict in Northern Ireland
Amount £2,500 (GBP)
Funding ID IAS/23115/21 
Organisation University of Warwick 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2022 
End 07/2022
Description Collaboration with Derry Playhouse 
Organisation The Playhouse Derry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Both myself and the Co-I worked together with Derry Playhouse to coordinate a programme of work taking place in Derry, which engaged other participants in the research network.
Collaborator Contribution Derry Playhouse hosted participants in the research network twice in Derry in 2022. In July 2022, they led on the organisation of a three day workshop exploring aspects of art, theatre and peace at the theatre.
Impact Initial trip to Derry Stages of Violence workshop - Derry
Start Year 2021
Description Collaboration with Kabosh 
Organisation Kabosh Theatre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have been working with Kabosh to consider how they can participate in the Kenyan and Rwandan events for the project.
Collaborator Contribution The artistic director has been feeding into planning discussions for our network event in Nairobi in April 2023.
Impact None yet
Start Year 2021
Description Collaboration with Mashirika Arts 
Organisation Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company
Sector Public 
PI Contribution PI and Co-I assist Mashirika to consider their input to research network
Collaborator Contribution Provided a workshop at event in Derry in 2022 and also presented on a panel discussion at the Irish Theatre Research Conference.
Impact A representative from Mashirika attended events in Derry in 2022. Mashirika will support with the organisation of newtork events taking place in Rwanda in July 2023.
Start Year 2019
Description Stages of Violence Research Network Event, Derry 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Over three days a series of talks, panels and practical workshops were hosted by Derry Playhouse. Collaborators from the research network attended, as well as additional artists and participants involved in arts and peacebuilding in Northern Ireland. Attendees connected with one another, sharing new practices and gaining deeper insights into each others' contexts and the value of arts as a tool for peace.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022