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Ways of Representing the Past: Documentary Theatre in Ireland and Brazil

Attilio Favorini opens the Introduction to Voicings: Ten Plays from the Documentary Theatre (1995) with Herodotus’ comments on The Capture of Miletus, a play on the recent Persian Wars by Phrynichus, performed in Athens in 492 BC, only some two years after the events it depicted. According to Herodotus, ‘the whole audience at the theatre burst into tears and fined Phrynichus a thousand drachmas for reminding them of a calamity that was their very own; they also forbade any future production of the play.’ The origins of documentary drama are then as old as that of western theatre itself and the form has lost none of its power to shock. This panel considers the ‘calamities’ that are our own.


Aideen Howard is Literary Director of the Abbey Theatre, commissioned No Escape and devised Down off his Stilts, a play about Yeats and the Abbey.

Colin Murphy is a journalist and author of Guaranteed!, a play about the government’s underwriting of the banking collapse, which is now also a film.

Jimmy Murphy is author of Brothers of the Brush and Kings of the Kilburn High Road is currently developing Of this Brave Time, a documentary about the Easter Rising for production by the Abbey in 2016.

Beatriz Kopshitz Bastos is literary advisor and produce of Cia Ludens, the Sao Paulo based company currently developing Amazon Diaries, a documentary play on Roger Casement’s time in the Amazon.

Alinne Fernandes has a PhD in Theatre and Translation from QUB and is currently working on the translation of Irish documentary plays (including No Escape) for a series of rehearsed readings by Cia Ludens.

Recorded for podcasting by Real Smart Media. Also available on iTunes.