Theatre & Peacebuilding

Theatre Without Borders artists have been working at the intersection of theatre and conflict transformation for decades. Our multi-year partnership with Brandeis University’s Peacebuilding and the Arts Program created the Acting Together on the World Stage project and transformed our understanding of the role that artists can and do play in contexts of violence. Read more below.

And here are some additional notable programs:

  • Drama Notebook In 2015, the author of Drama Notebook, the world’s largest collection of drama lesson plans, games, scripts and activities, extended an offer of free memberships to Theatre Without Borders subscribers who are using theatre to affect change in the world. The website is particularly useful for those creating devised work. You can contact the author directly for further information at
  • University of San Francisco, California: Performing Arts and Social Justice
  • Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia: Center for Justice and Peace Building
  • Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island: Theatre Performance and Society
  • Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts: Peacebuilding and the Arts Program
  • Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut: Genocide Studies Program
  • New York University, Art and Public Policy
  • University for Peace Headquartered in Costa Rica, the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) was established in December 1980 as a Treaty Organization by the UN General Assembly. As determined in the Charter of the University and endorsed by the UPEACE Council, the mission of the University for Peace is: “to provide humanity with an international institution of higher education for peace with the aim of promoting among all human beings the spirit of understanding, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, to stimulate cooperation among peoples and to help lessen obstacles and threats to world peace and progress, in keeping with the noble aspirations proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations.” At present, the UPEACE Costa Rica Campus has 124 students from 37 different countries, making it one of the most diverse universities in the world for its size. UPEACE is the only institution in the UN family authorized to grant degrees at the Master’s and Doctoral levels. The language of instruction is English.
  • The Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Center (IGSC) – Rwanda is a nonprofit organization based in Kigali, Rwanda.IGSC’s mission is to testify, to study genocide through rigorous cross-disciplinary scholarship, and to understand various mechanisms and structures of violence, with the goal of preventing genocide and mass violence. Jean-Pierre Karegeye (Director of Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies, University of California at Berkeley) and Erik Ehn (Dean of the School of Theater, California Institute of the Arts) first met in Kigali three years ago. They resolved to create a space for the study of the Rwandan Genocide. The initiative has involved theater artists, filmmakers, human rights activists, politicians, survivors, religious practicioners, researchers, students and scholars from various disciplines and countries, whose practice engages questions of testimony, reconciliation, peace building, human rights and dignity.

The Acting Together Project began in 2005 as a partnership between Theatre Without Borders and Brandeis University.  The 7-year affiliation, begun under the auspices the Alan B. Slifka Program in Intercommunal Coexistence, has involved scholars and practitioners working in fifteen conflict regions, collaborating on two anthologies, a documentary, and a toolkit, while building a learning community and strengthening networks. The project is lead by Dr. Cynthia Cohen in the Peacebuilding and the Arts Program of the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life at Brandeis University. The award-winning Acting Together on the World Stage:Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict documentary film is now available with subtitles in Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Sinhala, Spanish, and Tamil. ReCAST, Inc. distributes this material through its Multilingual Global Campaign.

In 2011, documentation of the six-year collaboration was released through a two-volume anthology Acting Together: Performance and the Creative Transformation of Conflict volumes I and II and a documentary Acting Together on the World Stage. Learn more at and

September 23-26, 2010 in New York City, Theatre Without Borders, hosted by La MaMa ETC and in affiliation with Brandeis University, presented the ACTING TOGETHER ON THE WORLD STAGE: A CONFERENCE ON THEATRE AND PEACE BUILDING IN CONFLICT ZONES. This conference brought together theatre and performance practitioners from around the world to share their experiences with artists, activists, educators, policy makers, and the general public. Artists arrived from and/or represented: Argentina, Belarus, Burma, Cambodia, Colombia, Cyprus, England, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, Peru, Romania, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, United States, Zimbabwe, and many other countries.

The Acting Together Project work continues as TWB network artists participate in curriculum development and training sessions organized by Brandeis University’s Peacebuilding and the Arts Program. The purpose of this affiliation was to broaden the conversation and to deepen the inquiry exploring the intersections of theatre and peace building. TWB and CI worked together on the creation of an anthology documenting this intersection, a series of gatherings both nationally and internationally, and an intensive exploration of related topics with a core study group. On May 23, 2005 a small group of individuals had an exploratory meeting, called Theatre and Peace Dialogue (I), to discuss further initiatives for those especially interested in using theatre in contexts of building peace. The next scheduled Theatre and Peace Dialogue (II) took place at the California Institute of the Arts as part of the CalArts interterm events during a four-day symposium exploring the relationship between theatre and genocide in ARTS IN THE ONE WORLD: A CONSIDERATION OF GENOCIDE, the dates were January 26 – 29, 2006. Brandeis and CI next invited study group members to present case studies at the IPRA (International Peace Research Association) Conference in Calgary, Canada, June 29 – July 3, 2006.

Read more about The Acting Together Project.

Read More