Unlisted character : on the representation of war and conflict on the contemporary stage
The focus of this dissertation is the theatrical representation of both the individual and war in a time of disintegrating national states and the dramatisation of destruction versus survival as the driving forces on stage. In a study on the future of empire it has been observed that instead of progressing into a peaceful future, the 21st century has slipped back in time into the nightmare of perpetual and indeterminate state of warfare: ceasing to be the exceptional state, war has become 'the primary organising principle of society', thus echoing Giorgio Agamben's declaration that the state of exception has become the status quo. Seminal studies on contemporary warfare and society such as Mary Kaldor's New & Old Wars (2005) and Ulrich Beck's World at Risk (2008 ) trace how the face of war has changed over the past fifteen years. The dramatic texts examined in this thesis reach from plays depicting inner-state conflict, civil war and the politics of fear, for example Caryl Churchill's Far Away (2000), Sarah Kane's Blasted (1995) and Zinnie Harris's war trilogy (2005-2008) over documentary and verbatim-based plays and their attempt to portray the trauma of war by recreating on stage the process of giving testimony and by endorsing public grieving (e.g. various Tricycle productions and Gregory Burke's Black Watch ), to adaptations of Greek tragedies (like Martin Crimp's Cruel and Tender ) and a Shakespearean play. The questions underlying this work are: how can war be represented on stage? and, how do the plays replicate the sociological structures leading to violence and war and explore their transformation of societies? Springing from the discussion about 'New Wars' in the age of globalisation, it will be demonstrated here how these 'New Wars' also bring forth new plays about war.