The introduction begins with an overview of the relationship of the arts and conflict over the last hundred years, pointing out the enduring influence of the First World War, and the influence of the arts on popular memory of that conflict, as well as the emergence of new technological art forms such as television and video installations. It discusses briefly the question of the relationship between arts and politics and provides some examples of problematic aspects of this relationship, for example in the British tradition of government sponsored war art. It gives a historical and contemporary overview of the world-wide context of live performance strategies which engage with situations and themes of conflict, oppression and social justice including those in the metropolitan centers of former imperialist nations, African storytelling theatres, the anti-colonial theatre movement in India, with its indigenous narrative traditions, and the Filipino People’s Theatre Network under the Marcos regime. It gives attention to the work of Augusto Boal in Brazil and his introduction of Forum Theatre, an important method of engaging with conflict transformation and reconciliation, which has become popular in many parts of the world and which is discussed in one of the essays which follow. It goes on to introduce the essays which include consideration of arts as a tool of the establishment, to arts as resistance, and arts as counter narrative.