The function of narrative in public space: Witnessing performed storytelling in Northern Ireland | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1757-1936
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1944



In an examination of how witnessing autobiographical stories through a performance onstage affects audiences, this article considers the function of narrative in public space. Its key focus lies on exploring the concept of witnessing through an analysis of the audience’s reception of two autobiographical storytelling performances in Northern Ireland. Drawing on the affirmative response to the portrayal of suffering, the argument is developed that, in today’s ‘therapeutic culture’, people are used to, prepared and therefore keen to hear from personal experiences and emotions but are, at the same time, yearning to return to ‘real’ emotions in an environment of emotional commodification.


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