Who Do We Think We Are? by Sonja Linden and company

Photo: Actors in Who Do We Think We Are? by Sonja Linden and Company © ViSiBLE and John Haynes

★★★★ 'A company of older actors of defiant talent’

- Kate Kellaway, The Observer

Note from the author

In 2012 a group of older actors met in a rehearsal room to explore their family histories as possible source material for a piece of theatre. The synchronicity of finding in that one room stories that included escaping from the Warsaw Ghetto as a child, surviving the atomic bomb in Nagasaki, growing up in India under the Raj, experiencing the harsh reality of Romania under Ceaușescu, being a prisoner of war in Siberia during the Russian revolution, avoiding the draft for the Vietnam war – that is to say a host of personal stories against the backcloth of some of the major historical events of the 20th century, seemed too remarkable and rich not to take further. And so our journey of play-making, drawing on the personal and family lives and photo archives of our ensemble, was begun.

The resulting production, Who Do We Think We Are? is a kaleidoscope of personal stories from 1914 to 2014 with live music and physicality, written in collaboration between playwright Sonja Linden, Director Sue Lefton and this group of professional international actors. 

It premiered at Southwark Playhouse in the autumn of 2014 with outstanding reviews and overwhelming audience response. 

Artistic team (Southwark Playhouse, 2014)

Director: Sue Lefton
Assistant Director: Liam Borrett
Set and Costume Design: Agnes Treplin
Projections Designer: Gillian Tan
Light Design: Neill Brinkworth
Composer: Sally Davies
Sound Design: Andy Taylor
Stage Manager: Naomi Hill
Cast: Norma Cohen, Jasmina Daniel, Trevor Allan Davies, Annie Firbank, Imola Gaspar, Andrew Hawkins, Paul Humpoletz, Togo Igawa, John Moraitis, Ruth Posner,
Musician: Francesca Ter-Berg
Executive Director: Adah Kay
Assistant Executive Director: Lynne Hale
Associate Producer: Claire French
Assistant Producer: Sophia Klose

Rehearsal photos

Photos: Actors in rehearsals © ViSiBLE and Nadia Otshudi


"That was a terrific show last night, it worked beautifully... I had the sensation that LIFE ITSELF was writing it."
Howard Brenton
"What a great company of actors, a reservoir of talent, stories, perspective and potential."
Ola Animashawun
Artistic Associate, Royal Court Theatre


Ruth Posner, survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto: ‘I did my best acting during the war – it deserved an Oscar’ – The Telegraph

Togo Igawa – ‘How I became the RSC’s first Japanese actor’ – The Guardian


‘Memories are picked up like dropped stitches… by a company of older actors of defiant talent’ – The Observer

‘At once charming, funny, touching, surprising and sad, this is a ride through the gamut of emotion that is life, or in this case, many lives’ – Everything Theatre

‘This is endlessly, endlessly moving theatre — go see’ – A Younger Theatre

‘A beautiful production — there is an immediacy to the stories that is intoxicating’ – Entertainment Focus

‘This is an ensemble work in which every performance is magnificent and as a whole a wonderful accomplishment. Don’t miss it.’ – British Theatre Guide

‘…by the time I left the theatre, I was having difficulty selecting favourite scenes to pick out in this review. And that would be my conclusion: you have to see this play, because there’s just so much of it that you can’t afford to miss.’ – A Theatre Blog

‘All of which makes the mission statement of ‘Visible’ – a new ensemble company formed of older actors – even more urgent and necessary’ – Exeunt Magazine

Audience feedback


‘It was so refreshing to see older performers depicted not in the narrow ways we generally see them on stage and screen – as doddering fools, terribly nice little old ladies, or bit-part players. The evening very much made me think about how terribly out of step we are in our industry in terms of how we present older people. So if that was – in part – the ensemble’s intention, then job well done!’ – Lucy Kerbel Director, Tonic Theatre

‘It was as very moving performance, as the memories were totally personal and beautifully delivered.   And a brave and long-overdue venture.  Please keep me on your mailing list.’ – Katharine Sathe, University of 3rd Age

‘A superbly energetic production – not just physically, but in its wealth of ideas too. I do hope it gets the recognition it deserves.’ – Jane Dorner

General Audience via Feedback Wall

‘The best night’s theatre I have experienced in years. A master lesson in acting.’

‘As a 20 year old, I feel this show was an out of this world way of showing what came before phones and the internet. I don’t think I quite realised how different your childhoods were to how mine has been – how different my own late grandmother’s must have been. Congratulations on a fab show!’

‘A very inspiring and polished production. Older people are the people we all must learn from – this is a wonderful example.’

‘An endearing performance about hopes, dreams and the power of memory. Excellently told by a talented cast. Well done! Could feel history coming alive. Love from a 20 year old American, Katie.’

‘To put it very simply: thank you for sharing this universal story made of your individual memories in such a way everyone can connect with it. Moving. Funny. An open window for reflection on how we all carry our stories, memories, family bonds.’

Filmed scenes from Who Do We Think We Are?

To watch the entire filmed production of Who Do We Think We Are? click here.

Scroll to top