Refugee Performance  (Book)

Practical Encounters

Edited by Michael Balfour

Exploring theater works created for, by, and with refugees, this hybrid collection of essays combines newly commissioned scholarly work with examples of writing by refugees themselves. These varied contributions illuminate performances that range from theater in Thai refugee camps to site-specific works staged in a run-down immigrant community in the United Kingdom. An exciting addition to the growing field of applied theater, Refugee Performance provides inspiring insight into the resilience and creativity of artists responding to one of the most critical issues of our time.


The title of this book, Refugee Performance, suggests there is a constituency of practices that might be unified under a definite term or god forbid to propose a new field of study. This is far from the intentions of the collection. This collection has grown out of an interest in performance and theatre in sites of war and the impact of conflict on diasporic communities. The chapters represent stories from a range of countries and war contexts, including Iraq, Thailand, Burma, Uganda, Palestine, Croatia, Serbia, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. This is by no means a comprehensive guide to performance

Michael Balfour is chair of the Centre for the Arts in Development Communication. His previous books include Performance: In Place of War and Drama as Social Intervention.

'A commendable resource' 

Choice by A. H. Fabos

'Editor Michael Balfour collates seventeen chapters which offer a comprehensive overview of the types of performance practices that can emerge from areas of displacement, and liminal or temporary spaces ... Its strength lies in this multi-regional approach' 

Studies in Theatre and Performance, Dawn Fowler

'[the book] presents an impressive array of perspectives on refugee performance by social workers, folklorists, writers, lawyers, theatre artists, and refugees themselves.' 

S.E. Wilmer, Journal Contemporary Theatre Review

'This book is the first comprehensive collection of essays on the practices and criticism of refugee performance. It presents a much needed wide range of reflections and analyses on refugee performance and procedural experiences from diverse approaches and regions. Through the lenses it provides, the book examines the aesthetics of contextualised performances, creative tensions and the dynamics of theatre as a healing space.'

Jessica A. Kaahwa, South African Theatre Journal
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