Teya Sepinuck is the founder and director of the Theatre of Witness model of performance, that gives voice to those whose stories haven’t been heard in society. For the past twenty-nine years, she has been creating and producing Theatre of Witness projects with prisoners and their families, survivors and perpetrators of abuse and violence, refugees, immigrants, elders, and those who have lived through war in the USA, Poland and Northern Ireland. The stories of the performers are performed by the people themselves and woven together with music, film and poetic imagery as a way for audiences to bear witness to stories of suffering, transformation and peace.
In 1991, she founded ‘TOVA –Artistic Projects for Social Change’ based in Philadelphia, through which she created and directed more than 30 original productions. From 2009-2014 she was based at The Playhouse in Derry – Londonderry Northern Ireland where she was the artistic director of The Playhouse Theatre of Witness Programme. There, she has created and produced four original ToW productions with ex-combatants, members of the security forces, witnesses and victims of the Troubles as well as those seeking safe haven and sanctuary. A documentary film by filmmaker Margo Harkin about her work on ‘I Once Knew a Girl’ was recently aired on BBC Northern Ireland.
Teya holds a BA in Dance from Bennington College and an MS in Community Counseling from Villanova University. She was an adjunct faculty at Swarthmore College from 1974-1991 in dance, where she also taught “The Arts as Community Service, Social Change” through 2006. She is the recipient of the Philadelphia Human Rights Award for Arts and Culture from The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, a Local Hero Award from the Bank of America, as well as the Cultural Arts Award from Women’s Way and the Mayor’s Commission on Women. She was just named the Chair of Theatrical Innovation by Holywell Trust, an organization in Northern Ireland devoted to peace and reconciliation. She has a long time meditation practice which informs all of her work and life. Teya is currently teaching Theatre of Witness at Juniata College and is setting up an International Academy for Theatre of Witness. Her book, ‘Theatre of Witness – Finding the Medicine in Stories of Suffering, Transformation and Peace’ was published in February 2013 by Jessica Kingsley Press.