Performance in Place of War by James Thompson, Jenny Hughes and Michael Balfour (Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2009)

Pip Rundle


In Performance in Place of War, Jamal Al-Rozzi, director of the Theatre For Everybody in Gaza, is quoted as saying that the formation of his company ‘was the best thing to do at the right time’. The same could be said for the production of the book itself. Written by James Thompson, Jenny Hughes and Michael Balfour, Performance in Place of War is a long overdue addition to the well-stocked library of war books available on witnessing, pro- or anti-war literature on theatre, performance as propaganda, and plays written about war and wartime. There is often a perception that as war begins creativity ceases; this publication proves that wrong and offers a new response to the often contentious topic of producing performance on, in or around war. As the authors write, ‘The book understands how theatre makes war (its inflammatory potential) and unmakes war (its ameliorative potential)’. It looks into both professional and non-professional performance and theatre practices in places of conflict from different countries and situations.

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