The Fire in Cambridge


To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire, Undiscovered Country in partnership with AlterEgo Creative Solutions, are launching an international, inclusive, collaborative ‘Peace Education’ research programme addressing the impact of theatre to contribute to positive change in society.

Our first collaboration will be ‘The Fire in Cambridge’ – an applied theatre re-enactment and reflection on the explosive 1965 clash between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. at Cambridge University.


Target audience :-

  • KS 4 & 5
  • Higher Education
  • Community Groups

Education does not change the world.  Education changes people.  People change the world.

Paulo Freire, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed



In 1965 James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. were invited to debate at The Cambridge University Union.

The result was a provocative and profoundly pertinent confrontation between one of the most powerful figures within the American civil rights movement, and a man who is often considered the father of 20th Century American conservatism.

This innovative ‘Theatre as Research’ project will examine the ground-breaking debate around racism, diversity, oppression and inclusion – a debate that was a pivotal moment in history and a debate that is hugely relevant in today’s global society.

‘The Fire in Cambridge’, written and produced by Craig Green and Roy Leighton, will weave together a verbatim* re-enactment of the debate with ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ methodologies, to examine, explore and inspire enquiry and conversation.  It aims to address the issues of direct, institutional and cultural violence and oppression in society in all their forms.

Using digital technologies audiences will be invited to share their thoughts prior to, during and after the performance, and examine the question ‘where can we go from here?’

The project is currently undergoing an intensive research, ethics review, consultancy, strategic partnership and development period and will be available to tour in 2022.


After the performance the audience will –

  • Have clearer strategies for engaging in ‘positive peace’ practices in their own lives and communities
  • Have a greater understanding of diversity and oppression beyond culture and race
  • Have a greater understanding of the skills of oracy, dialogue and debate as the means to engage, inform and inspire
  • Have given voice and born witness to their own experiences of exclusion, difference and violence through the use of digital technologies and forum theatre techniques
  • Challenge fixed mindsets
  • Experience the relevance of community to support social change
  • Understand the power that young people can have to become agents of change in their individual and community lives
  • Understand the competences needed for sustainable change (linked to the UN 17 sustainable development goals)
  • Develop an understanding of personal responsibility in the process of change in society (what Friere regarded as ‘Praxis’)
  • Develop an understanding of the importance of ‘humanitarian education


About the writers/producers Craig Green and Roy Leighton

Roy and Craig first met whilst training as performers in Physical and Political Theatre with Tadashi Suzuki at The Suzuki Company of Toga in Japan in 1987.  They have been friends and colleagues ever since.

Craig Green began working in theatre during college at Ohio State University and then in graduate school at the University of California at San Diego.

Craig has worked on the stage, film and TV in New York and Los Angeles. He has also worked as a writer, including plays, scripts and short stories, including one that was published in the Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota.

Craig has spent most of the last ten years as a criminal attorney in Minnesota.  His work in the legal field, and observations of the current social and political climate, has led him back to theatre, working to find a way to address social concerns with the immediacy of the stage.


Roy Leighton holds an MPhil from Cambridge University in Knowledge, Power and Politics, sits as an advisory board member for the Da Vinci Life-Skills School Cambridge, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and co-chair for the Cambridge Peace and Education Research Group (CPERG).

As a senior associate at Independent Thinking and the CEO of Undiscovered Country, he works with schools, universities, businesses, and communities in the U.K. and internationally to develop cultures of ‘positive peace’ and play to support engagement, transcend conflict and improve outcomes.

He is the co-author of eight books on education, creativity, spirituality and change management.

Roy is a peace activist and in 1991 he was awarded the Min-on Peace Award for his contribution to peace, culture and education.


The project will be available to tour between February and March 2023.  If you would like to book or have any questions please contact us.


*Some terminology from the original debate will be changed in this re-enactment as it is no longer acceptable or appropriate to use.


Project Information

Show Title The Fire in Cambridge

Authors : Craig Green & Roy Leighton

Running Time 90 minutes

Get In 1 hr

Get Out 30 mins

Cast Size 3

Performance Space 4m x 4m

Technical Requirements

Staging Ground Level – In the Round