‘The Press/Supress/Our Stories of Happiness/They Choose to Define Us/As “Suffering Headliners”’: Theatre-Making with Women Living with HIV

  • Katharine Low
  • Matilda Mudyavanhu
  • Shema Tariq


In this chapter, we describe an innovative interdisciplinary collaboration between theatre practitioners, clinical researchers and a community-based organisation, all working in equal partnership, to explore the intersecting experiences of womanhood and HIV. Drawing upon the work of Gayatri Spivak, Mikhail Bakhtin, Alison Jeffers and Beatrice Allegranti, we examine three key themes: the importance of self-representation, the impact of creating different spaces, and the centrality of reciprocity. Underpinning our work, is the desire to work in partnership with women living with HIV to challenge existing hegemonic narratives of what it is to live with HIV in the UK in the twenty-first century.



We would like to thank all the women who participated in this project. We would also like to acknowledge the help and support that Positively UK continue to offer us; thank you in particular to Silvia Petretti for her vocal championing of this work. We also thank the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama students who worked alongside us. This practice and research was funded by the UCL Public and Cultural Engagement Unit, in the form of a Beacon Bursary Award for Public Engagement. Shema Tariq is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (PDF-2014-07-071). We received additional support and funding from the Research Office at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Low
    • 1
  • Matilda Mudyavanhu
    • 2
  • Shema Tariq
    • 3
  1. 1.Royal Central School of Speech and DramaUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Independent ScholarWorcester ParkUK
  3. 3.Institute for Global Health, University College LondonLondonUK

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