'The sun never sets on the British arms trade.' Bringing protest theatre to London.

  • Date

    Fri 8 Sep 17

The Arming the World team

One of our theatre studies lecturers is helping to take satire to the streets of London to demonstrate the impact of the arms trade on global human rights.

Arming the World, a street theatre performance, was co-developed by Annecy Lax from our Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies. The free performances coincide with the world’s largest arms fair, Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), which takes place in London next week and has been criticised by London Mayor Sadiq Kahn.

Annecy helped develop the show in her previous role as Creative Director at ice&fire, a theatre company that explores human rights issues through performance. She said: “The controversy around DSEI is nothing new, but in 2013 the UK became a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty agreeing not to sell arms to countries with human rights abuse records.

“Yet in 2017 we are still selling to some of the worst and most persistent human rights abusers, and British-made bombs are striking civilian targets in Yemen, fatally increasing the repercussions of famine and disease in the region.”

Arming the World will be performed at sites across London, and online, from 12-16 September, as part of a wider week of action hosted by Campaign Against the Arms Trade. It sees an arms trade ‘outreach team’ demonstrate their latest products in a weapons catwalk show, and tell their behind-the-scenes stories on social media.

Annecy said: “This piece doesn’t unilaterally condemn military intervention or the role of the armed forces. We’re asking the public to consider how their taxes support the sales of weapons being used to sustain conflict, not solve it. We are told the arms trade is about British jobs, but this is really about profits for private corporations that are often domiciled overseas.”

Annecy Lax
"We’re asking the public to consider how their taxes support the sales of weapons being used to sustain conflict, not solve it."
Annecy Lax Department of LIterature, Film, and Theatre Studies

In researching the show Annecy interviewed Dr Daragh Murray from our Human Rights Centre, who has written a guide to human rights law in armed conflict.

“I was an interested theatre-maker with ten years’ experience in artistic takes on human rights issues, but I needed to make sure that I spoke to specialists in this field," said Annecy. "Daragh is a leading researcher and it was fascinating to talk to someone with his level of expertise. We talked about the ethical basis for a Treaty in situations where ethics are highly debatable.”

Arming the World is a collaboration between ice&fire, renowned site-specific theatre company Teatro Vivo, acclaimed stage designer takis and the London School of Economics. It has been supported by Arts Council England, The Esme Fairbain Foundation, The Unity Theatre Trust, The Sylvia Waddilove Foundation, TREAT, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and The Network for Social Change.