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Enhancing commemoration of the Holocaust through performance

Case study: Enhancing commemoration of the Holocaust through the performance of witness testimony.

Staff: Jane Arnfield

75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, there is now an urgent need to find new, affective ways of communicating the lived experience of the remaining survivors. Research by Jane Arnfield combined innovative performance methodologies with interview techniques derived from sociology, to excavate and re-enact historic witness testimony, allowing audiences to ‘inhabit’ survivors’ stories. Arnfield’s ‘Living Memorial Theatre Methodology’ formed the basis for major theatrical productions, including The Tin Ring (performed by Arnfield in 16 countries world-wide, across diverse audiences). This work provided major commemoration organisations, including Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre (Poland) and the Defiant Requiem Foundation (USA), with new approaches to engage audiences in an affective memorial process.

The research also underpinned Arnfield’s reflective programme ‘Suitcase of Survival’, delivered to over 20 secondary schools across the North of England, including Holocaust Beacon institutions. With its emphasis on ‘rehumanising’ sensitive subject matter, the work improved understanding among education and creative practitioners, including those from the Holocaust Education Trust, enhancing traditional curriculum delivery methods. The insights transformed strategy at The Forge (UK Arts charity), enabling them to secure GBP150,000 National Portfolio funding from Arts Council England.

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