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Theatre of Witness – Finding the Medicine in Stories of Suffering, Transformation and Peace

Posted on Feb 24 2015 under Arts, Previous Programs

Teya Sepinuckzena ZumetaTheater of Witness is a form of performance in which the true life stories of people whose voices haven’t been heard in society are performed by the storytellers themselves as a way for audiences to bear witness to significant social issues. The theater productions are scripted from individual and group interviews as well as a variety of creative process techniques and consist of scripted text, music, movement, imagery and film projection. The productions are created with the performers who themselves have directly experienced the issues being explored. Theater of Witness invites audiences to put a face and heart to societal issues of suffering and to celebrate the power of the human spirit to grow and transform. Theater of Witness is a form of peace building and inspiration.


Teya Sepinuck is the founder and director of the Theater of Witness model of performance that gives voice to those whose stories haven’t been heard in society. Since 1986, she has been creating and producing Theater of Witness projects in the US, Poland and Northern Ireland, with prisoners and their families, survivors and perpetrators of abuse and violence, refugees, immigrants, elders, and those who have lived through war. The stories of the performers are performed by the people themselves and woven together with music, film and poetic imagery as a way for audiences to bear witness to stories of suffering, transformation and peace.

Teya is the recipient of the Philadelphia Human Rights Award for Arts and Culture from The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, a Local Hero Award from the Bank of America, as well as the Cultural Arts Award from Women’s Way and the Mayor’s Commission on Women. She was just named the Chair of Theatrical Innovation by Holywell Trust, an organization in Northern Ireland devoted to peace and reconciliation. She has a long time meditation practice which informs all of her work and life. Her book, ‘Theatre of Witness – Finding the Medicine in Stories of Suffering, Transformation and Peace’ was published in February 2013 by Jessica Kingsley Press.

Zena Zumeta, internationally known as both a mediator and trainer of mediators.  She is president of the  Mediation Training & Consultation Institute, Zena Zumeta Mediation Services, and The Collaborative Workplace in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Zena is a lawyer and a former president of the Academy of Family Mediators.  She is the recipient of the the Michigan Lifetime Achievement in Mediation Award; the National Education Association/Saturn Corporation Award for Union-Management Collaboration; the John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award; and the Kumba Award from the National Conference on Minorities in ADR.

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