Book Announcement: Theatre & War: Notes from the Field by Nandita Dinesh

Nandita Dinesh places Kipling’s ‘six honest serving-men’ (who, what, when, where, why, how) in productive conversation with her own experiences in conflict zones across the world to offer a theoretical and practical reflection on making theatre in times of war. This timely and important book weaves together Dinesh’s personal narrative with the public story of modern conflict, illustrating as it does, the importance of theatre as a force for ethical deliberation and social justice. In it Dinesh asks how theatre might intervene in times and places of conflict and how we might reflect on such interventions. In pursuit of answers, Theatre and War adopts the methods of auto-ethnography, positioning the theatrical practitioner at the heart of conflict zones in northern Uganda, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Rwanda, Kenya, Nagaland, and Kashmir. No longer a detached observer, the researcher and practitioner has to be able to meld theory with practice; to speak to ‘doing’, without undervaluing the importance of ‘thinking about doing’.

Each chapter approaches the need for a synthesis of theory and practice by way of a term of inquiry―Why, Where, Who, What, When―and each is equipped with a set of unflinchingly honest field notes that are designed to reveal some of the ‘hows’ from the author’s own repertoire: questions and issues that were encountered during her own theatrical undertakings, along with first hand reflection on the complexities, potential, and challenges that attended her global work in community theatre. Within these notes are strategies that give the reader a practical insight into how the discussion might find its footing on the ground of war.

The range and scope of this book make it required reading for those interested in theatre―practitioners, researchers, and students alike—as well as those seeking to understand the applications of the arts for ethics, politics, and education.

Academic Work.


PRAISE FOR THE BOOK

This book is a fine addition to the literature, not only on theatre and war but more generally, on applied and educational theatre and art making.
—John O’Toole, Applied Theatre Research Journal, 4/3 (1 Sept 2016): 269-270.

Theatre and War provides a vital addition to those theatre practitioners and scholars interested in how the arts might work within contemporary conflict zones. Nandita Dinesh’s work provides insight both to practices in contexts that have not been previously documented—Nagaland, Guatemala, Kashmir for example—and also offers an approach to analysis that is refreshingly immediate. Drawing on her personal experiences, and providing a critical appraisal of them, we learn about community theatres in complex sites of violence and upheaval—and in presenting accounts of these interventions we learn about both the dynamics of these conflicts and how theatre might operate to challenge and question them. A great book for all interested in the importance of theatre and the arts to our contemporary, violent world.
—James Thompson, Professor of Applied and Social Theatre, The University of Manchester.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nandita Dinesh holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Cape Town in South Africa and an MA in Performance Studies from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Focused on the role that theatre can play during and after violent conflict, Dinesh has conducted community-based theatre projects in India, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. She currently teaches Theatre Arts and Literature & Performance, in addition to overseeing the juvenile justice programming, at the United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico.

Nandita’s books include: Theatre & War: Notes from the Field, Memos from a Theatre Lab: Exploring What Immersive Theatre “Does”, Scripting Detention: A Project in Theater and Autoethnography with Incarcerated Teens, and Memos from a Theatre Lab: Spaces, Relationships, and Immersive Theatre.

In 2017, she was awarded the Elliott Hayes Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramaturgy by Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.

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