The representation of Muslim-related international conflicts in contemporary Anglo-American theatre, 1992–2011

Alaa Ali

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Focusing on plays created over the last two decades, this thesis investigates British and American playwrights’ depiction of the Anglo-American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and also their dramatisation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My main hypothesis is that these plays’ comments on the conflicts challenge the dominant discourses of both the Anglo-American politicians and the leaders of terrorists. Instead of reducing bloody confrontations to jingoistic labels such as the War on Terror or the War on Islam, the dramatic texts analyzed insist on portraying the suffering of innocent victims of these politically exploited conflicts, including civilians and soldiers.

Concerned with both common and different features of the three places and contexts of confrontation, the plays are insistently topical, in some instances by suggesting a comparison between historical and present episodes of the conflicts on the grounds of repetition and causal relations. As the texts seek to achieve an informative goal, their forms vary from tribunal theatre to dreamlike plays. Therefore, my theoretical approach to these plays eclectically utilises a combination of insights drawn from political theatre, documentary drama and performance studies, supported by explanatory paradigms of social semiotics.
The thesis is organised thematically so that the first chapter explores the intersecting roots of current confrontations. The second chapter focuses on the different forms of representing topical events whether by adopting documentary techniques, creating imaginary plots, or mixing both. In the third chapter I explore dramatic portraits of the Iraqi people’s oppression throughout four disasters: the Gulf War in 1991, the economic sanctions, the unjustified invasion of 2003, and its aftermath. The fourth chapter analyses dramatic responses to the War in Afghanistan, on which playwrights comment by depicting three phases of Western occupations since the nineteenth century by Britain, Russia, and America, respectively. The fifth chapter focuses on the representation of two post-
9/11 incidents of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, within which occasional individual
tolerance keeps resisting the inherited hatred.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Gilbert, Helen, Supervisor
Award date1 Jul 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015

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