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Biography

Howard Barker is an internationally renowned dramatist, whose first plays were performed at Royal Court Theatre and by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Since 1992 his work has been presented by his own company, The Wrestling School, http://www.thewrestlingschool.co.uk/. Barker is also a poet and theorist of theatre, whose ‘Theatre of Catastrophe' defines a new form of tragedy for our times: ‘ Theatre of Catastrophe takes as its first principle the idea that art is not digestible. Rather, it is an irritant in consciousness, like the grain of sand in the oyster's gut…’

By Howard Barker, available through Currency Press -  see all

Arguments for a Theatre
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Arguments for a Theatre

Howard Barker
 

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.

Oberon Books Ltd, UK | 978-1-78319-805-4 | Sales Rights: Australia/NZ only | PB
Barker Plays Five
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Barker Plays Five

Howard Barker
 
Featuring: The Last Supper, Seven Lears, Hated Nightfall and Wounds to the Face

Howard Barker is one of the most significant and controversial dramatists of his time. His plays challenge, unsettle and expose.

Both The Last Supper and Seven Lears exemplify Barker's way with great religious and literary stories, the first placing the willful suicide of a Christ-like prophet, Lvov, in the context of modern chaos, illuminating his moral ambiguities with comic or painful parables, the second taking its inspiration from the significant absence in Shakespeare's play, that of Lear's wife, the queen whose murder is here discerned as the origin as the great family tragedy.

The execution of the Russian royal family remains shrouded in mystery - not least that of the identity of two bodies discovered in the mass grave years after the event. In Hated Nightfall Barker's speculative imagination leads him to identify these as the children's tutor, Dancer, and a recalcitrant servant, Jane. Dancer is perhaps Barker's archetypal hero, febrile, iconoclastic, yet in search of a self-sacrifice nothing appears to justify. In Wounds to the Face, our complex and sometimes violent relations with our own physiognomy form the psychological link between related scenes of wounding, notoriety, shame and vanity in a play of kaleidoscopic energy and imagery.
Oberon Books, UK | 978-1-84002-886-7 | Sales Rights: Australia/NZ only | PB
Barker Plays Nine
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Barker Plays Nine

Howard Barker
 

The latest collection of plays by Howard Barker, one of the most significant and controversial dramatists of our time. Internationally renowned, his plays challenge, unsettle and expose.

The latest volume in Oberon's Howard Barker series comprises the plays:

  • Harrowing and Uplifting Interviews
  • In the Cloth Cathedral
  • In the Depths of Dead Love
  • More No Still
Oberon Books Ltd, UK | 978-1-78319-311-0 | Sales Rights: Australia/NZ only | PB
Barker Plays One
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Barker Plays One

Howard Barker
 

Features: Victory, The Europeans, The Possibilities and Scenes From An Execution.

Howard Barker is one of the most significant and controversial dramatists of his time. His plays challenge, unsettle and expose. These plays are among his best-known works, and their energy, poetic language and imagination have fixed them firmly in the international repertoire.

Exploring the tragic form defined by Barker as Theatre of Catastrophe, three of the plays speculate on human behaviour in moments of historical crisis. Victory is set in the English Civil War and follows the ethical voyage of a widow towards personal reconstruction. The Europeans takes one of the great eruptions of Islamic imperialism as the background for a young woman's insistence on her right to her own identity. Scenes from an Execution shows the struggle of an independently-minded artist against the power of the Venetian state and The Possibilities, a disturbing series of short plays set in various times and cultures, reveals Barker's unconventional way with moral dilemmas.


Oberon Books, UK | 978-1-84002-612-2 | Sales Rights: Australia/NZ only | PB
Barker Plays Six
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Barker Plays Six

Howard Barker
 

Featuring: Judith, (Uncle) Vanya, A House of Correction, Let Me and Lot and His God

Barker’s radical rewriting of Chekhov’s classic Uncle Vanya brought him more controversy than most of his other works put together. Interrogating not so much Chekhov’s text as the use to which society has put it, Barker turns Vanya’s defeat into victory and converts a play of sadness into a tragedy of desire. A House of Correction is a meditation on cause and effect. Set on the eve of a war which may destroy a society, the seemingly arbitrary arrival of a messenger with a vital communication sets off an agonizing train of events in the lives of three desperate women.

Few works of drama can have plumbed the depths of solitude and rage that characterize Let Me, a nightmare set on the frontiers of the Roman Empire during the barbarian invasions. Biblical narratives serve as the origin of two shorter works, of which Judith is a contemporary classic of cultural conflict, a reinterpretation of the status of the heroine in Israel’s war of survival against the Assyrians. In Lot and His God, the imminent destruction of Sodom simultaneously licenses the moral decay of an angel and the erotic epiphany of an adored wife
Oberon Books, UK | 978-1-84002-961-1 | Sales Rights: Australia/NZ only | PB
Barker: Plays Eight
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Barker: Plays Eight

Howard Barker
 
Featuring: The Bite of the Night, Brutopia, The Forty and  Wonder and Worship in the Dying Ward.


The Trojan legend and the character of Helen form the basis for The Bite of the Night. As with all Barker’s mythical and historical works, it is overlaid and undermined by a contemporary narrative, in this instance the search for the origin of the erotic undertaken by the redundant university teacher Dr Savage and his nihilistic student, Hogbin. Through all twelve Troys, Savage and Helen struggle with a passion both intellectual and physical, and the idea of beauty is refined to a terrifying degree.

In Brutopia Barker’s controversial portrait of the humanist Thomas More is shaped around his strained relationship with his daughter Cecilia, here discovered to be the author of a counter-text to her parent’s infamous Utopia. Cecilia’s wit and cruelty mark her out as one of Barker’s least compromising and heroic young women.

The Forty is a significant departure from Barker’s dramatic practice, his investment in language reduced to a few phrases which punctuate detailed scenes of conflict and solitude. Physical movement, and intense concentration on gesture show the author’s flair for visuality in a new and surprising way.

The theme of sacrifice features increasingly in Barker’s theatre, and in Wonder and Worship in the Dying Ward it is a mother’s refusal to apologize for an act of passion – notwithstanding the dire consequence for her own child – that is at the heart of the argument. Set in a home for terminally-ill patients, many of whom create a hilarious chorus around the protagonists, Wonder and Worship in the Dying Ward shows Barker’s imagination in its most startling form.

Cast : 4F, 12M, extras; 5F, 12M, extras; 13 characters non-gender specific
Oberon Books, UK | 978-1-78319-087-4 | Sales Rights: Australia/NZ only | PB
Barker: Plays Seven
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Barker: Plays Seven

Howard Barker
 

This volume of Oberon's Howard Barker series comprises the plays Und, 12th Battle of Isonzo, 12 Encounters With a Prodigy, Christ’s Dog and Learning Kneeling.

Howard Barker is Barker is an internationally renowned dramatist. There has been a recent resurgence of presentations of his plays in Britain, with particularly acclaimed productions at the Arcola theatre and the Hackney Empire in recent years. He has a sizable following on the European mainland.




Cast : 1F; 1M, 1F; 10M, 7F; 11M, 5F; 5M, 3F
Oberon Books, UK | 978-1-84943-401-0 | Sales: Australia/NZ only | PB
BLOK/EKO
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BLOK/EKO

Howard Barker
 

Howard Barker’s theatre is characterised by its tragic scale and its distinctive way of exposing the unconscious resistances that underlie apparent social unanimity, both in the sexual and political spheres.

Barker’s play, BLOK/EKO, is a large-scale drama about death and its status in the world. Eko, an ageing despot, seemingly on a whim liquidates the entire medical profession, asserting that consolation – in the form of song – is a better way with sickness than drugs or surgery. A connoisseur herself, she knows great song is itself the distillation of suffering and so deliberately exposes her greatest poet Tot to a life of crime, poverty and humiliation in order to extract from him his finest work.



Cast : 4M, 4F (doubling required)
Oberon Books, UK | 978-1-84943-110-1 | Sales rights: Australia/NZ | PB
Lot and His God
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Lot and His God

Howard Barker
 

I came to the city. I saw the people were filthy. And those who were not filthy were still filthy…

Sodom. The day before the city's total annihilation. Among the grimy tables of a run - down café, an angel tells Lot that God wants him to flee, before the city is obliterated. However, Lot's irresistible wife has other ideas... As the angel and Lot's wife embark on a dangerous game of seduction, cruelty and desire, we are drawn ever deeper into the dark and impenetrable forest that is the marriage between Lot and the bewitching woman he worships…




Cast : 3M, 1F
Oberon Books, UK | 978-1-84943-409-6 | Sales: Australia/NZ only | PB