War Crimes by Angela Betzien

RECOMMENDED FOR: Tertiary students

CAST SIZE: 4F (plus potential ensemble – there are multiple characters)

A PLAY TO: Read, read aloud, study, perform, as stimulus for making and creating

GENRE: Contemporary theatre, non-naturalistic, drama

THEMES: Identity, war, rape culture, identity

CURRICULUM/STUDY LINKS: Dramatic form and structure, contemporary Australian theatre,

SYNOPSIS: What do you do when your country is at war, your town is at war, your friends are at war and there’s a war inside your head? You run. One morning Jade wakes bruised and bleeding on the beach. She thinks she’s alone, that no one will know, but someone was watching from the cave above the cliffs.

Playwright Angela Betzien says of her play, “War Crimes was created in response to a spate of attacks on war memorials across Australia and several other real contemporary Australian events, with the intention of stirring up some big questions about our national history, identity and future. Importantly, it raises the question of what is sacred to us as a nation”.

Set in a regional coastal town, War Crimes tells a powerful story of five disenfranchised young women who are fighting for respect, railing against authority and struggling to form an identity in a small town with limited opportunities. The relocation of an Iraqi refugee family to the town provokes a climate of hostility and tension that threatens to violently explode.

STAGING: This is a powerful ensemble piece for five female performers as or in addition to an ensemble. The themes are challenging, but so are the lives of these young women and many young people growing up in regional and urban Australia. The language is strong but brings a deep authenticity to the characters’ experiences. Staging of this play can be very simple and representational. It is multi-locational and episodic in structure, and the writing is often lyrical in nature. Diverse casting is encouraged.

We acknowledge that we live and create on unceded lands. We pay our respects to the First Peoples of Australia, and to their elders past, present and future.

© Australian Plays Transform 2024