CFP: Teatrum Belli: Theater of War, Theater as War, War as Theater

Dear ATDS Colleagues,

Please note the following CFP by our colleagues Barbara Ozieblo and Ilka Saal.

International Theater Conference Thessaloniki, 18-21 April 2013.

Panel Proposal

Teatrum Belli: Theater of War, Theater as War, War as Theater


This panel explores the complexities of the interaction and intersection of war and theater. At first glance, they seem to have little in common: theater is fiction, war is real. Upon closer scrutiny, however, the two share surprising affinities: both are cultural artifacts; both require producers, directors, actors, and spectators; and—in our day—both increasingly blur and challenge the boundaries between stage and audience. Moreover, both theater and war have the power to disrupt life, to transgress the rules of the ordinary, and to catapult us into a radically different experience. They represent borderline situations of human existence; and on these borderlines, boundaries vanish, fictions become real and reality fiction.

This panel, then, aims to investigate precisely the fraught lines between theater and war by examining issues of commitment and intervention, notions of spectacle and commodification as well as the relationship of political and aesthetic violence. Questions we would like to address, include — but are not limited to! — the following:

  • How has theater responded to and sought to intervene in concrete geopolitical conflicts? What aesthetic techniques has it developed in the process? What role do affect, empathy, and cognition play in the spectator’s reaction to the realities of war, to war on the stage, and to the victims of war?
  • What role does violence play in war as well as on stage? And how is the violence of war represented in the theater? In what ways does theater adapt to and address new forms of war that bring with them new forms of violence, such as the war on terror or cyber-warfare?
  • What is the role of technology in staging war, both on the battlefield and in the theater? In what ways have politicians and the media increasingly adopted theatrical techniques for staging war? How does technology affect our viewing habits as well as our capacity for empathy and/or critique on and off stage?How can theater resist the increasing commodification of war?

This panel invites contributions that address these issues from contemporary as well as historical perspectives. The notion of war may be understood in its widest geopolitical dimension, including modern forms of warfare, such as war on terror, war on drugs, cyber-warfare and others.

Please send 300-word abstract and short bio by 30 July 2012 to Ilka Saal and Barbara Ozieblo


About Sarah Bay-Cheng

Professor of Theater at Bowdoin College. Co-host for the On TAP (Theatre and Performance Studies) podcast at Editor for the book series Avant-Gardes in Performance (Palgrave). Sporadically blogging about theatre, performance, and digital culture. twitter: @performaddict
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