Howard Barker’s theatre is uniquely alluring and startlingly original, bringing together classical discipline, moral ruthlessness and transgressive eroticism, in a form and experience Barker terms Theatre of Catastrophe. His uniquely stylish and rigorous work as a director for his theatre company, The Wrestling School, challenges and breaks the limits of conventional theatre, to present haunting speculations on humanity in situations of crisis. He has also emerged as a major theorist on the possibilities of theatre, and on human specificity, and the importantly surprising powers of both. This study considers the full range of Barker’s theatrical and theoretical work in exploring and dramatizing life’s extremity, brevity and intensity, in order to create a moment of knowledge beyond the received terms of history.
PART I: A STYLE AND ITS CONTEXTS Gifts of Loss: An Introduction to Barker’s Writing and Theatre ‘The Ecstasy of Vanishing Meaning’: Arguments for a Theatre; Death, The One and The Art of Theatre
PART II: PLAYS AND PRODUCTIONS Intimacy with the Unforgivable: The Last Supper, The Early Hours of a Reviled Man, Golgo, Judith, Rome, Ten Dilemmas Cultural Re-Fashionings and Shakespearean Negotiations: Brutopia, Seven Lears, (Uncle) Vanya, Minna Separation, Sacrifice and Sainthood: A Hard Heart, Terrible Mouth, Hated Nightfall, Ego in Arcadia, The Brilliance of the Servant, The Gaoler’s Ache, Twelve Encounters with a Prodigy, Ursula Facing the Wound: Wounds to the Face, Und, He Stumbled, House of Correction Infinite Reversibility: All He Fears, The Swing at Night, Albertina, Knowledge and a Girl, The Twelfth Battle of Isonzo, Animals in Paradise, The Ecstatic Bible, Found in the Ground Wrestling with God: Defilo, All This Joseph, Five Names, N/A (Sad Kissing), Gertrude – The Cry, The Seduction of Almighty God, The Moving and the Still, Two Skulls, Acts (Chapter One) Servitude and Servility: An Eloquence, The Blood of a Wife, A Rich Woman’s Poetry, Stalingrad, Thirteen Objects, The Dying of Today, Dead Hands, Christ’s Dog The Boundary and Beyond: The Fence, Heroica, Adorations Chapter 1, Dead, Dead and Very Dead, The Road, The House, The Road, Let Me, A Wounded Knife, Lot and his God, The Forty (Few Words), I Saw Myself Inconclusion: Consolations in Extremity: Howard Barker: A Style and its Origins Appendix One: Testimonies by Barker Actors: Julia Tarnoky, Justin Avoth, Edward Petherbridge, Melanie Jessop, Gerrard McArthur Appendix Two: Howard Barker: A Chronology
DAVID IAN RABEY is Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at Aberystwyth University, UK, and a dramatist, director and performer. His numerous critical publications include Howard Barker: Politics and Desire, English Drama Since 1940 and (as co-editor) Theatre of Catastrophe: New Essays on Howard Barker. His dramatic writing includes two volumes, The Wye Plays and Lovefuries. He has directed and/or acted in eleven Barker productions to date, including performing in Barker’s own production of The Twelfth Battle of Isonzo. He is an Associate of Barker’s theatre company, The Wrestling School.