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Distributed for Intellect Ltd

Howard Barker Interviews 1980-2010

Conversations in Catastrophe

British playwright Howard Barker coined the term “theatre of catastrophe” to describe his unique brand of complex, ambiguous, and often unsettling drama. Revered in continental Europe, North America, and Australia as one of the greatest living dramatists working in the English language, Barker is also a celebrated poet, theater theorist, and painter. The first collection of interviews conducted with Barker, Howard Barker Interviews 1980–2010 covers his entire career and gives a strong sense of the life and work of this innovative dramatist.

214 pages | 6 halftones | 7 x 9 | © 2011

Biography and Letters

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“An immaculately put-together, absolutely necessary book, not just for the Barker afficionado but for anyone wondering what happened to the battle of ideas in British theatre. This volume provides an essential overview of this under-appreciated playwright and his enduring work. It’s like a critical survey, intellectual autobiography and dictionary of Barkerian quotations rolled into one.”

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph

“This fascinating collection of conversations provides a unique insight into the processes which make Howard Barker’s plays works of sheer brilliance. These interviews remind us that the theatre can be utterly profound, philosophical, savagely political, and completely captivating.”

Roxana Silbert, Royal Shakespeare Company

“These engrossing dialogues have a chiselled philosophical brilliance, and display a fierce personal dignity. In them, we find Barker rejoicing in contrariety and championing the intimacies of beauty and suffering. As writer and director, he is, as he once admiringly said of actors, different in kind—a fact these fascinating interviews triumphantly confirm.”

Ian McDiarmid, actor

“This book provides fascinating and comprehensive insight into Barker’s extensive body of work. By presenting this overview through interviews with the playwright himself, it offers the reader an incredibly rich and complete sense, not only of the plays, but also of the character and personality of arguably our greatest living dramatist.”

Dominic Hill, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Table of Contents


‘Energy—and the small discovery of dignity’
       With Malcolm Hay and Simon Trussler (for Theatre Quarterly)
‘Articulate explorers in an age of populism’
       With Charles Lamb
‘The idea of hidden life’
       With David Ian Rabey
‘A laboratory of human possibility’
       With Charles Lamb
‘On puppetry and All He Fears
       With Penny Francis
‘A demand for the problematic’
       With Dan Hefko
‘It has always been possible to improve on God’
       With Charles Lamb
‘Death as a theatrical experience’
       With Aleks Sierz
‘Crisis is the essential condition for art forms’
       With David Ian Rabey and Karoline Gritzner
‘Not what is, but what is possible’
       With Thierry Dubost
‘About things on the stage’
       With Elisabeth Angel-Perez et al
‘Ecstasy and the extremes of emotional life’
       With Mark Brown
‘A rupture to the moral curve’
       With Elizabeth Sakellaridou
‘On Shakespeare’
       With Vanasay Khamphommala
‘An education in living poetry, vivid and violent’
       With Nina Rapi
‘On The Wrestling School’
       With Duška Radosavljevic
‘Art is about going into the dark’
       With Mark Brown

Notes on Contributors
A Barker Reading List

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