The War Plays: A Trilogy

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DOI: 10.5040/9781408175026.00000002
Acts: 3. Scenes: 38. Roles: Male (19) , Female (13) , Neutral (0)

Edward Bond’s trilogy of plays portrays a brutal world struggling in the aftermath of nuclear holocaust.

Part I: Red Black and Ignorant introduces Monster, an inhuman being who presents the life that he did not get to live. Killed within his mother’s womb, the play reveals the world which would have awaited the unborn child: a post-apocalyptic society of destruction and war.

In The Tin Can People, a community of survivors are living on tinned food, years after the nuclear explosion. When a stranger appears, he is welcomed into the group, but suspicions mount when one of the other survivors dies. Convinced that the newcomer is contaminated, the group resolve to destroy this new threat to their existence.

A woman descends into madness in Great Peace after her baby is murdered by her son on military orders. She is adopted by a new community who offer to care for her but rather than accept their welcome, she ultimately chooses to stay in the wilderness.

The plays are accompanied by Bond’s commentary on the processes of improvisation and experimentation that shaped this trilogy, providing a comprehensive discussion of the playwright’s theoretical approach to his work.

The War Plays were first staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1985: Part I: Red Black and Ignorant and Part II: The Tin Can People were performed in May 1985 and Part III: Great Peace received its world premiere in July 1985.