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Written & Directed by Howard Barker
June 2011 Northcott Theatre Exeter
A collaboration with the University of Exeter Drama Department and Exeter Northcott Theatre

Imagine a world in which they’vekilled all the doctors in order to let the poets become the healers...

With its cast of 70, this was a surging, boiling crucible of language and imagery about obsession, pain, poetry and medicine, and most touchingly, the lifelong passion of a queen for her servant.

Howard's plays fearlessly explore power and sexuality with a poetic and compelling language rich in ideas, beauty and dramatic violence. This was a rare opportunity to encounter The Wrestling School in a plethoric experience of total theatre.

"about as challenging as art gets without pulling weapons on the audience" 

Blog review Here

Poetry consoles us for those griefs without which we should cease to be human. Such is the calculation of the Singing Queen who loves three poets differently, and to enhance their function, annihilates the medical profession, dedicated as it is to painlessness and everlasting life. Eko pays the price of her conviction and dies in agony. Blok is the great Russian symbolist, maddened by a ruptured world.  Pindar, the Greek of classical times, is winner of prize upon prize for sweet songs. Tot, a later Villon of the streets and like him, criminal, is called Tot because in London slang to tot was to accumulate discarded things, a poet’s instinct surely?  Nausicaa, servant and interpreter of the despot, is Homer’s perfect girl, brave and innocent, who believed the greatest liar of all time, Odysseus. In refusing to learn from her mistakes, she becomes yet braver in later life, for ‘we learn from our mistakes’ is now the worst cliché of our times, and she prefers her innocence, no matter who might pervert it. 

BLOK/EKO has no place or time.  It is theatre which if it tells at all, tells by other means.


Eko, a Despot                                     Jane Bertish
Pindar, a Poet of the Salons              Alan Cox
Quasidoc, a Doctor                            Suzy Cooper
Tot, a Poet of the Streets                   Shaun Dooley
Nausicaa, Homer’s Perfect
         Child in later years                     Melanie Jessop
Blok, a Poet, Servant to Eko              Gerrard McArthur
Quota, Interpreter to Eko                    Megan Hall
Brady, A Hirer of Guns                      Liam Smith

Truck, a Surgeon                                Michael Magan
Authenticut, a Surgeon                        Laura Jayne Brown
Lamp, an Aggrieved Patient               David Ian Rabey                    
Sheet, an Aggrieved Patient               Martha Ferguson
Pallid, a Transplant Specialist            Sarah Evans
Angel Handkerchief                          Sarah Lankaster
Sisters                                                Clare Parker & Carla Hayes
Rubber                                               Andrew George
Plate                                                  Hannah Cummings

Alice Higginson
Alilie Donaldson
Amey Hodson
Amy Novadnieks
Andrew George
Rebekah Peake
Carla Hayes
Clare Parker
Claudia Campbell
Bernadette Ellerby
Diana Monteiro
Elena Vogiatzi
Eunjoo Han
George Chouliaras
Giorgia Ciampi
Hannah Cummings
Hannah Kamen
Hannah Talbot
Isabel Tennyson
Kate Welsh
Katherine Mant
Kirsty Proffitt
Laura Doble
Laura Jayne Brown
Laura Pringle
Lucinda Knight
Martha Ferguson
Matthew Taylor
Megan Gittins
Melissa Clayton
Moniqa Islam
Nefeli-Foteini Daliani
Niharika Negi
Rachel Ware
Rebecca Reid
Robert Ansell
Rose Blyth
Rosamund Frost
Sarah Evans
Sarah Lankester
Sian Keen
Steven Bono
Veroniki Kyriakopoulou


Now the day goes reeling
With my fingerprints all over her
No beauty she
And nothing learned by her or me
To reimburse us for the hours lost
In unkind intimacy
No one calls for the law to punish
Animal absurdity
I might do worse

The night throbs
Irregular as the pulse of
A forsaken casualty
His flesh is cheap
His memory is free
To any man who’ll cart away
His parts in trays and buckets
Take me to a room that does not
Smell of death
The thin nurse implores me
Her arse so sharp it makes
Ribbons of her skirts
At nine she’s free
I could do worse

By moonblaze
Shadows black as clockhands
Slice the grass
Wives dream hectically the loss
Of men more loved than husbands
Who ignorant of what makes them toss
Paint with their tongues curse
After curse on the stale bedroom air
If I can’t do better
Let me do worse

This Wrestling School/University of Exeter/Northcott Theatre co-poduction was an element of Howard Barker’s research fellowship at the University supported by the Higher Education Funding Council.
Blok/Eko was part of a research project led by Howard Barker at Exeter University exploring the use of plethora in drama funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Photos Copyright Farrows Creative

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Blok/Eko is published by Oberon Books
+44 20 7607 3637