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School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

The theatre of war - support for artists in conflict zones

Our research has documented, analysed and enhanced the work of theatre artists in and from war zones around the world.

We have built international networks of artists, developed support materials and trained practitioners, giving their work an international platform. The In Place of War website provides online space where artists interact and share their responses to war, unrest and conflict.

Working in war zones

In Place of War logo
The IPOW website has received 10,000 hits from 30 different countries, highlighting the role of the arts in troubled situations.

UK refugees and performance artists in war zones access a pioneering initiative to promote theatre in areas of armed conflict.

Our work has answered the call of theatre artists in war zones around the world to address their sense of disconnection. Through workshops, seminars and the widespread distribution of support materials, we have supported the work of performance artists living in and coming from war-torn regions around the world.

Key benefits:

  • Documentation, archiving and fostering new connections between more than 350 arts organisations internationally
  • Training of theatre workers from over 40 groups in participatory theatre techniques through seven events in the UK, Kosovo and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
  • 10,000 hits from 30 different countries on the IPOW website highlighting the role of the arts in troubled situations
  • Production of a training manual on use of theatre, distributed to NGOs during the post-tsunami relief period
  • Support with the establishment of the Greater Manchester Refugee Arts Partnership resulting in five refugee arts festivals, two theatre festivals, an acclaimed drama group at the Medical Foundation for Care of Victims of Torture and a national conference of refugee artists, advocates and activists

Our research

We examined the relationship between performance and war through analysis of contemporary examples of conflict-zone theatre globally.

We also studied theatrical protests against wars, and performance in the UK by refugees and asylum seekers.

Key topics:

  • Relationships between the space / time of a conflict and related arts outputs
  • Differences between reconciliation and justice-based projects
  • The links between memorialisation and theatre making
  • Aesthetic challenges faced by artists
  • Critique of international donor practices, helping to make donor support more sensitive to local contexts
  • Affirmation of the importance of arts practices to communities in war zones, challenging assumptions about the priorities of people living in conflict

Lead academics