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Past Productions
Hurts Given
And Received

Written by Howard Barker
Directed by Gerrard McArthur

Does the creation of a great masterwork require a compulsion to cruelty?

Inspired cruelties
Dazzling compulsions
The intoxication of the taboo

In Hurts Given And Received Howard Barker re-examines the creative life of the artist through one of his most fascinating and appalling creations. Provocative ideas, pungent poetic language, and savage wit build a thought-provoking allegory of the artist ’s relationship with society.

'McArthur’s production is as precise as a paper cut... '
The Times

Tom Riley (pictured left) was nominated for a Best Performance Offie (An Off West End Theatre Award)

Hurts was presented at London's Riverside Studios in April/May 2010

By Howard Barker    
Directed by Hanna Berrigan

As barbarians approach the palace of a decaying culture, four princesses debate their fate. Decorum demands suicide. But, for some, the possibility of life is all too compelling. In a culture of conformity, it may not be up to the individual to decide...

Hurts was presented at London's Riverside Studios in April/May 2010


Wonder And Worship In The Dying Ward
We are always encouraged to apologise for our wrong actions.  But what if we sensed to do so would destroy our integrity?

This rehearsed reading of Howard Barker’s latest work directed by Howard Barker was presented as part of this Barker Festival at Riverside Studios.

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Hurts Given And Received and Slowly
have been published by Oberon Books
+44 20 7607 3637

Howard Barker.... ON SACRIFICE…

The sacred character of the individual in secular democracies obliterates any possibility the sacred might be located in any other sphere, and the consequence is a war of competing egos, thinly concealed beneath sentimental and threadbare platitudes of conscience and pity.  These rags of faith and reason, strung together by some dimly-remembered concept of progress, flutter over a culture which seethes with cruelty and manipulation, rendered more odious by the cult of transparency, a transparency that elicits no shame.  The poet has perhaps, the obligation to own up to his wilfulness, if only to assist others to own up to theirs and this might be the secret of The Great Poem, the creation of which lies at the heart of Hurts Given And Received, and which unexpectedly, excites the world.  Paradoxically, no one around Bach denies his right to destroy them, sensing they are the material of appalling insights.  But Bach can hardly be surprised to discover his own sacrifice becomes in turn demanded by the collective, if only to affirm the old cliché that great truths don’t come cheap…

By contrast, the world of Slowly elevates the culture over the individual life, and since culture is built on the legacy of the dead, makes loyalty to the dead a greater affirmation of dignity than the struggle for existence.  To survive at any cost demeans us, but the profound subtlety of thought that turns suicide into a political weapon cannot of itself obstruct or delay the inexorable law of decay defined by Strabo, in the first century BC as ‘The Process of Disappearing…’