Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Talking Points Seminar: 'Reparative Stages, Unreconciled Truths'

06 June 2022, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm

Transitional Justice and Dramatic Adaptation in South African Theatre. With Dr Alex Feldman. Respondents: Dr Tom Penfold (UCL) and Dr Margherita Laera (University of Kent)

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni






Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground
Ground floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building
United Kingdom

Referring to the unresolved conflicts of South Africa’s post-Apartheid era, Wole Soyinka prophesied that “[t]he contingent dramas of Truth and Reconciliation will mostly be played out outside the confines of the actual chambers where these hearings are held.” Ostensibly evoking the social and political consequences attendant upon these still unreconciled truths, Soyinka’s figurative language also bespeaks the role of theatre in giving shape to such confrontations—those “dramas…played out”, in response to the Commission’s findings, upon South Africa’s stages. Attending to the theatrical and literary qualities of the TRC’s hearings, which “occupied”, as Catherine Cole has observed, “a liminal space between performance and the law”, this paper identifies the challenges faced by playwrights in finding suitable aesthetic forms for the dramatization of these events. Paying particular attention to complex, aesthetically hybrid works, such as Ubu and the Truth Commission (1997), by Jane Taylor, William Kentridge and the Handspring Puppet Company, based upon Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi (1896), and Yael Farber’s Molora (2003), based upon Aeschylus’ Oresteia (458 BC), this talk examines experimental theatre’s evocations of transitional justice, in the contexts of law and literature scholarship, theatres of trial and testimony, and postcolonial drama’s appropriation of canonical texts.


Dr Alex Feldman

(Visiting Research Fellow, IAS)


Dr Tom Penfold

(Associate Lecturer in African History, UCL)

Dr Margherita Laera

(Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre, Univeristy of Kent)


All welcome. Please follow this FAQ link for more information. All our events are free but you can support the IAS here.