De-radicalisation Through the Performative Arts


  • Simon Terhaag


Self-victimisation, Trauma, Theatre, Israel, Palestine


The Arab-Israeli conflict plays out on a variety of arenas. With regards to international involvement and support, the discursive aspect of the conflict is particularly important; how each side represents itself and the other. In this paper, the discursive means by which contemporary theatre dealing on the Arab-Israeli conflict are examined, with specific regard to changing these frames in a way that can allow for more dialogue and the deconstruction of demonising tropes that continue to frame the conflict today. In the works of Naomi Wallace’s Vision One: a State of Innocence, a powerful message to this end is delivered, creating an uneasy link between a Palestinian lady and the Israeli soldier who shot her daughter, but died in her arms. Rife with accusations, the play yet manages to bind the two characters together through a trauma that each has lived, a continues suffering of the radical elements in their societies. This connection draws a sobering, yet hopeful conjecture about the ongoing nature of the conflict; the more each side has radicalised itself and inflicted harm on the other, the more the self has suffered, too. The resulting trauma experienced is common ground on which the two sides can understand each other. As a performed experience, the stage is shown to be a safe space on which to express this possibility of approaching the other, of taking down walls both sides have built up for over half a century, and allow for the possibility of recognising each others’ humanity.


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