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BIC Excellence Award

Forms of Conflict
Contemporary Wars on the British Stage

By Sara Soncini

Forms of Conflict
Hardback, 314 pages £65.00
Published: 2016
ISBN: 9780859899932
Format: 234mm x 156mm
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Paperback, 314 pages £22.50
Published: 2016
ISBN: 9780859899949
Format: 234mm x 156mm
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This edition is not available yet.
PDF, 314 pages £18.00
Published: 2018
ISBN: 9780859890830
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This edition is not available yet.
EPUB, 314 pages £18.00
Published: 2018
ISBN: 9780859891080
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Subjects: Performance

Forms of Conflict is a full-length study of the representation of contemporary warfare on the British stage and investigates the strategies deployed by theatre practitioners in Britain as they meet the representational challenges posed by the ‘new wars’ of the global era.

It questions how dramatists have responded aesthetically to the changing nature of conflict, focusing on plays written and performed after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Soncini examines how the works of playwrights such as Caryl Churchill, David Hare, Martin Crimp and Simon Stephens have provided an interpretative means to enlarge our understanding of the new patterns of conflict, ensuring theatre’s continued cultural and political relevance.

Forms of Conflict explores the relationship between new forms of warfare and new forms of drama, illustrating what dramatic form can reveal about the post-9/11 landscape and complementing a rapidly growing field of contemporary war studies.

The appendix contains a complete list of war-related plays staged in Britain between 1990 and 2010, with a brief description of their topic and approach.






1. Introduction: Scenes of War

2. This is Not a War: Mimesis in the Age of Simulacra

            2.1 Presages

            2.2 Far away, so close

            2.3 Media narratives

3. War without Conflict / Theatre without Drama

            3.1 Fragments from a warrior’s discourse

            3.2 The rest is silence

            3.3 There’s method in this randomness

4. ‘Why Fabulate?’

            4.1 Documenting war

            4.2 The tribunal play: extending the code

            4.3 Uneasy coaltions

5. The Performance of Witnessing

            5.1 The talking cure

            5.2 The artist is present

            5.3 Technologies of recollection

6. Figures of Mediation

            6.1 The translation turn

            6.2 The mediator’s invisibility

            6.3 The combat linguist

            6.4 Uncanny bodies

Appendix: New War Plays on the British Stage, 1990-2010

Works Cited




This is a timely and meticulously researched volume on the representation of war on the British stage written around or after the September 11 terrorist attacks.  It confronts the aesthetic and political challenges of this representation by focusing on a select group of dramatists who have made significant contributions to British drama.
There is a rapidly growing field of contemporary war studies in university arts, theatre and performance departments and this book would be a welcome addition to the range of texts already on offer.Dr Dawn Fowler, Senior Lecturer in Drama, University of the West of England

With Forms of Conflict, Soncini adds an art-based focus to the growing literature of contemporary war studies and also connects theater studies to political science research into the rhetorical strategies of war. Using detailed descriptions and persuasive close reading of recent performances, Soncini paints a thorough picture of contemporary British theater and offers a timely reminder of art’s power to disrupt the discourses of war.
Forms of Conflict contains rich close readings of scripts and meticulous descriptions of performances. Soncini has a knack for imagery that draws readers into the performance experience while simultaneously directing them to key points in her analysis.
Even if the reader is unfamiliar with the scripts or productions Soncini discusses, her colorful depictions form a clear picture. Soncini also provides comprehensive historical context for events like the Bloody Sunday inquiry or the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, and this attention to details strengthens her argument.

- Journal of British Studies, Volume 56, Issue 4, October 2017

Dr Sara Soncini is a researcher in the Department of Philology, Literature and Linguistics at the University of Pisa. Her research interests include 20th and 21st-century British drama and theatre, with specific emphasis on the representation of war and conflict, and the aesthetics and politics of intertextual and metatheatrical strategies.



Forms of Conflict
Forms of Conflict - Contemporary Wars on the British Stage - Paperback cover

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 314 pages
 234mm x 156mm

 Paperback , 314 pages
 234mm x 156mm

 PDF , 314 pages

 EPUB , 314 pages

BIC Code:
  HIS054000, LIT013000, PER011000
 University of Exeter Press


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