David Cotterrell

Thought Curfew


Output: Performance

Thought Curfew is an original performance project developed for presentation as the headline act of the Ubumuntu Festival of Culture in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018. The research undertook to explore the staged challenges to empathy that can facilitate polarisation and objectification prior to the descent into conflict.

The project developed from observations recorded during research trips undertaken by Cotterrell to Palestine, Tunisia and Sri Lanka (2017). In these locations the enquiry was iteratively articulated through paper presentations at the Palestine Performing Arts Network Internation Conference (Ramallah, Palestine), the Hammamet Conference (Hammamet, Tunisia) and GIZ Memory Space Dialogues (Colombo, Sri Lanka).

Thought Curfew was developed with support from the GCRF HEFCE fund, the Ubumuntu Festival and British Council (East Africa). It was delivered by an multinational interdisciplinary team comprising of Stages Theatre Company (Sri Lanka), Mashrika Theatre Company (Rwanda), Ron Wright (UK) and Ian Sanderson (UK). The project was produced using a hybrid methodology integrating approaches from theatre and visual art installation.

The project involved the development of an original script, collaborative devising processes and the experimental integration of live theatre and immersive projection. The resulting production was viewed by over 3000 people on its opening night. It presented an allegorical thought experiment considering the level to which awareness of risk can facilitate methodological failure within contexts of narrative formation, humanitarian care, development sector responses and military peace-keeping missions.

The enquiry, the interdisciplinary approach and the contentions raised through the production were the subject of an authored chapter for the Routledge Handbook of Medical Humanities, (published Spring 2019).

Following the realisation of the Thought Curfew, two further productions were developed to complement and extend the original work. An original theatre production, Mother Wall, was created and staged at Ubumuntu 2019 and a short film was developed for the live-streamed Ubumuntu 2020.

Research Output

This collection of images displays the outputs from this project. Find out more details in the full case study below.

Research Method

It was a play and a creative process which set out to explore the manner in which entire communities of people can be rendered unthinking in a moment – or in other words subject to a ‘thought curfew’.

Key Methodologies:

Full Project Output

REF '21

To learn more about the output, methods and dissemination of this work, explore the full project submission.

Other Projects By

David Cotterrell