Howard Barker and The Wrestling School have been seen as marginal to the major concerns of British theatre, problematic in their staging and challenging in the ideas they explore. Yet Barker's writing career spans six decades, he is the only living writer to have been accorded an entire season with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and The Wrestling School produces theatre of such a striking quality that it earned continuous Arts Council funding for nearly 20 years.
Wrestling with Catastrophe challenges existing ways of reading Barker's theatre practice and plays and provides new ways into his work. It brings together conversations with theatre makers from in and outside The Wrestling School, with first-hand accounts of the company's practice, and a selection of critical readings. The book's combining of testimony from key Wrestling School practitioners with alternative practical perspectives, and with analysis by both established and emerging scholars, ensures that a spectrum of understanding emerges that is rich in both breadth and depth.
In its consideration of the full range of Barker's aesthetic concerns - including text, direction, design, acting, narrative form, poetry, appropriation, painting, photography, electronic media, technology, puppetry, and theatre space - the volume makes a radical re-evaluation of Barker's theatre possible.
James Reynolds is a Lecturer in Drama at Kingston University, London, UK. He has also taught at Queen Mary, University of London, and Rose Bruford College. Dr Andy W. Smith is the Associate Head of the School of Media at the University of South Wales, UK. His doctoral thesis is a study of Howard Barker and his theatre company The Wrestling School. He has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on the theatre of Howard Barker, post-war British drama, horror cinema and the Gothic in popular culture.
Acknowledgments List of Photographic Plates Notes on Contributors Introduction - James Reynolds and Andy W. Smith Part One: Howard Barker and The Wrestling School Introduction to Part One 1. A Company and its Origins - James Reynolds in conversation with Kenny Ireland 2. From the Actor, to the Actor - Nicholas Le Prevost, Philip Franks, James Clyde, Sean O'Callaghan, Jules Melvin, Victoria Wicks and Suzy Cooper 3. Directing Slowly - Hanna Berrigan 4. Amplifying Catastrophe - Ace McCarron 5. On Discipline - James Reynolds in conversation with Howard Barker Part Two: Readings/Inversions Introduction to Part Two 6. `To experience a thing as beautiful': the Photographic Practice of Howard Barker - Andy W. Smith 7. Vintage Barker: New Writing in Old Bottles - James Hudson 8. Howard Barker and the Return of Religion - Peter A. Groves 9. Going Underground - James Reynolds Part Three: Other Barkers Introduction to Part Three 10. Acting Barker - Hanna Berrigan in conversation with Fiona Shaw 11. Staging Barker in America - Andy W. Smith in conversation with Cheryl Faraone and Richard Romagnoli 12. Barker from a Viewpoint: Staging Ursula: Fear of the Estuary - Sarah Crews 13. Staging Barker at Scotland's Conservatoire - Mark Brown in conversation with Hugh Hodgart 14. `A Gallery Of Images': from the Aberystwyth Students - David Ian Rabey Endnotes Index