Oh What a Lovely War – Rhinegold Publishing

Oh What a Lovely War


Oh What a Lovely War has real resonance today. A look at almost any news bulletin at any time will allude to one conflict or another in the world, and it is very possible that any one of us will know someone – or know of someone – who is involved in some way. Some students may be related to army personnel currently serving abroad, as may our colleagues. It goes without saying, therefore, that this subject matter needs to be handled with great sensitivity.

This play, however, helps us here. Oh What a Lovely War is historicized: conceived in the early 1960s about a conflict that occurred half a century previously. This ‘distance’ should make those engaging with the play concentrate on the issues, rather than engage in an emotive response to the characters. Nevertheless, any debate about the idiocy of war and those who engineer it makes for lively discussion. The play gets students thinking critically, researching, engaging and arguing. In my opinion, it is a welcome addition to the set text list. The title of the play is, in itself, cause for debate as war is anything but ‘lovely’.

Learning objectives:

  • To introduce the practitioner Brecht
  • To explore how music and montage are used in epic theatre
  • To begin to examine the differences between dramatic and epic theatre
  • To understand how a Modellbuch can be used to prevent an overtly dramatic presentation of the play, particularly when performing the men in the trenches
  • To further examine the differences between dramatic and epic theatre and address the limitations of both
  • To explore different stage spaces and their suitability for the play

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