“A manifesto as systemically unsystematic as Artaud’s for a Theatre of Cruelty – a comparable mixture of self-revelation, self-concealment, anger and explosive excitement. The essays, all of them, are clamorous, challenging and eloquent. Indisputably brilliant.” –Peter Thomson, University of Exeter
This new edition of Barker’s seminal text Arguments for a Theatre outlines the theory and practice of his ‘Theatre of Catastrophe’. Author of over thirty plays, Howard Barker has long been an implacable foe of the liberal British establishment, and champion of radical theatre world-wide. His best-known plays are The Castle, Scenes from an Execution and The Possibilities. All his plays are emotionally highly charged, intellectually stimulating and have no truck with the theatrical conventions of what he terms the ‘Establishment Theatre’. These fragments, essays, thoughts and poems on the nature of theatre likewise reject the constraints of ‘objective’ academic theatre criticism. Rather they explore the collision (and collusion) of intellect and artistry in the creative act. This book is more than a collection of essays: it is a cultural manifesto.
Howard Barker is an internationally renowned dramatist, whose first plays were performed at the Royal Court and by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Since 1992 his work has been presented by his own company The Wrestling School. Barker’s theatre is characterized by its poetic, non-naturalistic form and inhabits worlds of contradiction, suffering and sexual passion. Barker is also a poet and theorist of theatre, who’s Theatre of Catastrophe defines a new form of tragedy for our times.