Children Witnessing War: Emotions in the Theatre Play Wij/Zij by Susanna Hast

The article discusses war as an experience, as it touches us and as we are touched by it (Sylvester 2011, Butler 2009). The study of being touched by war means looking at war with the body as the locus of war experience (Sylvester 2011). Children are important witnesses to war consuming images and narratives of war even when they do not experience it directly. Through a theatrical play Wij/Zij by a theatre Bronks in Belgium – on the Beslan hostage crisis, which took place 10 years ago – the article discusses the variety of emotions involved in witnessing war, and witnessing war from a child’s perspective, in particular. It addresses the potential of the theatrical play in representing through the movement of the actor’s bodies and the sound of their voices new perspectives to experiencing war from a distance. The article discusses the lack of typical emotions of war such as fear, anger and resentment (Petersen 2011) and also the lack of social emotions, such as compassion in the play. The analysis reveals how awe and wonder (Bleiker & Leet 2011) of the hostage crisis is represented in a statistical approach to war, and how suffering is represented through physiological needs of water, air, food and metabolic needs.