Ljiljana Bogoeva Sedlar

Oh, What a Lovely War!

Anti-War Protests Fropm Shakespeare to Howard Zinn


This paper is a tribute to Joan Littlewood, the great British theatre practitioner who died in September 2002. It connects her work (her Theatre Workshop performances such as Uranium 235 in 1946, and Oh What a Lovely War in 1963), with the efforts of those who, like Shakespeare, created plays with similar anti-war agendas in the past, and those who today, in many different ways, strive to oppose violence and war. The international pro-war coalition of usurpers has under its control all the technology it needs to carry out its new conquests, and all the media space it requires to justify and promote the injustice and violence it inflicts. To counter this, it is important to use every opportunity to highlight views which would make another world possible. Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is discussed as an early vision of the coming revolt of the guards, which American historian Howard Zinn urges us to believe is possible. The revolt, to succeed, must learn much from Titus and Shakespeare’s other plays (The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest). To free men from violence, the quest for justice must transcend the temptation to revenge. The works of playwrights Oscar Wild, John Herbert and Arnold Wesker, and filmmakers Julie Taymor (Titus), Andrey Tarkovsky (Sacrifice), and the brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (The Son), demonstrate how that can be accomplished. They insist that history is reversible, and that the paradise (or utopia) which is our due, can, indeed, be re-entered and regained.