Theater Therapies in Refugee Contexts

Through this project, our Associate Director Carrie Preston examines efforts to use theater therapy in refugee settlements, particularly to address sex and gender-based violence. She considers projects often grouped under the term “applied theater” that seek to bring refugees, as creators and performers, alongside professional actors. These projects, often funded by state institutions and NGOs, are adamantly well-intentioned, but they are often rooted in Euro-American understandings of theater and therapy traditions (like the unique tradition that it is good to talk about something). These traditions can be irrelevant, or worse, dangerous, in refugee settings. Because of the troubling lack of collaboration between the artists, therapists and health professionals, funders, and experts in culture, gender, and race, money is wasted, art becomes a missed opportunity, and people are hurt. This book also explores how theater, as art and therapy, can do better. 

News and Publications: 

  • Forthcoming book: Carrie J. Preston, Complicit Participation: The Liberal Audience for Antiracist Theater (Forthcoming Oxford University Press).
  • Peer-review article: Carrie J. Preston, “Participation, Pandemic, and the Pucker in Taylor Mac’sThe Lily’s Revenge” in Taylor Mac, eds. Sean Edgecomb & David Román (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming 2022).