Theatre and Policy: How can theatre aid the making of policy? 

Convener(s): Sam Pallis ([email protected])

Participants: Valentina Zagaria, Pascal Pocheron, Arabella Lawson ([email protected]) Tom Latter ([email protected]), Lauren Cooney and Tom Ross Williams


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Initial Questions

We started off by discussing:

  • What can theatre offer to policy and policy makers?
  • What is policy missing that theatre can provide it with?
  • How can theatre help people engage with politics and policy making?
  • So much of policy making is focused on capturing people through the tangible, facts, statistics, but what about the people?
  • The personal can’t be quantified through facts, people life’s aren’t facts.

How could we present people’s views in a theatrical way?

Performing in people’s houses, centers where the policy is actually take place

Make policy makers confront the environments they are legislating for

Why is theatre better at doing this than film, or other forms of art?

Because it is live, you are in dialogue with the audience, the audience are living the theatre piece, everyone has to engage with it in some way.


Theatre as research

Do a project around a question/problem then explore in the community, explore in a theatrical way and then find a way of presenting the work in a performance as a way to demonstrate what you have found. This could then lead to a policy that needs to be made, or questioning a current policy.


Theatre and change

Why do people find  it hard to see theatre as an agent of change?

Theatre can question and can get people thinking, but it can go beyond this?

Can theatre legislate?

Putting people’s voices forward as a way to inform policy decision.

Theatre can help to formulate policy e.g. Boal, Teatro di Nascosto’s Charta of Volterra (refuges and members of the European parliament created a performance together on the stories of the refugees which was performed at the Europeoan Parliament and which resulted in the Charta of Volterra on how to change refugee law)

Theatre can provide creative solutions to problems, look at open space- theatrical thinking brings people together.

What are our expectations for change?

Change can take a long time or happen very quickly

I have gone to see a piece of theatre, and only after reflecting on it for a long time it has changed the way I think about theatre and myself

Change often takes a long time to come to the surface, it works in people’s minds and only comes in action later

How can we capture change-A BIG QUESTION


How do represent people experiences in a theatrical form?

Does it need to be performed by ?


How could a project start?

  1. A policy maker is interest in finding out something, how a new facility is working, or whether they demolish a building-Policy question-then see what people think about it
  2. Starting from the community and see what question form through doing that?


Taking an anthropological approach go into the community and see what you find. Can an anthropological approach work for the first option? Can you make a question which comes from policy makers open to the community?




What is in this for policy makers? Or bodies that are interested in certain communities?


Do you have to use the language of policy makers to get them to listen? Yes. But then we have duties to try and change the way policy makers think. To bring people back into policy.

Too much of policy denies the personal but the way that politicians act is informed by their personal environments. The personal is not seen as objective but the personal is all we have, it is what drives us and must be acknowledged as a valid way to view a situation which effects people.


Why would people want to participate in this? Offers them a chance to influence policy? What about if they are not interested, or never even heard about the issues you are discussing?


Theatre can act as intermediary between people and policy makers


But should be asking why people aren’t engaged?